In this article, we explain how homemaker contributions impact property division in Illinois divorce. We answer the following questions:
Illinois is an “equitable division” state, not a “community property” state. This means that rather than marital property being divided in half between the spouses, courts have discretion to divide property based on a number of factors. We discuss these factors in detail in our article, How is Property Divided in Illinois Divorce?
One of the factors that courts consider when determining how to apportion marital property between spouses is each spouse’s contribution to the acquisition of the assets. Illinois courts generally weigh a spouse’s contributions as a homemaker equally with contributions as a breadwinner. This is known as the “homemaker contribution.”
Illinois courts do not use a specific formula to determine how to weigh one spouse’s contribution as a homemaker to the acquisition of marital assets against the other spouse’s contribution as a breadwinner. Rather, courts look at the household services and raising of children provided by the homemaker spouse on a case by case basis. Courts recognize that often one spouse foregoes educational and career opportunities in order to support the other spouse in advancing his or her career.
The more the homemaker spouse can demonstrate that his or her actions have supported the breadwinner spouse in allowing him or her to further his or her career, the more heavily the homemaker contribution will be weighed. The length of the marriage is an important factor in determining how heavily the homemaker contribution will be weighed. The longer the marriage, the less important courts find each spouse’s individual contribution to the acquisition of assets to be, meaning that in long marriages courts are more likely to assume that both spouses contributed equally.
If one spouse both provides financially for the family and also does the bulk of household chores and child rearing activities, the homemaker contribution of the other spouse will not carry much weight. In a case like this, the breadwinner spouse has a good argument to receive the majority of marital assets.
Similarly, if the homemaker spouse has been wasteful of marital assets, such that his or her participation in the marriage was actually an economic detriment, courts factor this into the distribution of assets.