On behalf of Andrew Boyer PC posted on Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Any divorce has the potential to be a massively complicated affair. Many Illinois couples spend months in court arguing over child custody, alimony, child support and other important issues, but cases in which real estate is up for dispute can be even lengthier and more stressful. A marital home represents a particularly substantial and costly investment that is not always easy to equitably divide. This makes it important for Illinois divorcé(e)s to understand how real estate can affect the property division process.

The easiest way to address a shared piece of property is generally to sell it and divide the proceeds between divorcing spouses. However, parties that do not agree on how to divide that money often must leave negotiation to attorneys, potentially accruing large legal fees. Couples can address this problem by leaving the decision to a neutral third party, but both must agree to accept that decision in advance. Another potential solution is to distribute the proceeds from the sale depending on how much each spouse contributed to the home's equity.

Many divorcing couples are reluctant to sell a marital home, in which cases one spouse typically retains ownership of the property. However, this can make it difficult to ensure the other party receives a comparable award. The spouse who keeps the home could potentially pay the other party a portion of the home's total value based on an independent appraisal, but this can be hard to arrange to both spouses' agreement. Furthermore, the party who keeps the home may not have the cash necessary to pay his or her ex-spouse.

There are various ways to deal with this problem. For instance, both spouses might agree to sign a document stipulating that the individual remaining in the marital home has a certain number of months in which to pay the other spouse, after which the home must be sold. Illinois residents facing a similar dilemma in their own divorces should contact a qualified family law attorney to find out what types of solutions best meet their needs.

Source: Daily Herald, " Complications arise when splitting real estate in divorce," Jack Guttentag, April 13, 2013