Marriage means different things to different people, but one commonality to all those who choose Illinois as the place for taking their vows of matrimony is that they are bound by the laws of that state in how that marriage is legally formed and, ultimately, if things don’t work out, how that marriage is dissolved. Few couples enter marriage with divorce thoughts looming, yet it is realistic to be aware that not all unions last forever. Consequently, it is not unusual for people to take steps to protect their own interests in the event that a divorce becomes necessary.

At one time, couples recently married were very likely to combine all their assets into joint accounts. Relationship experts report that younger people are more likely to question the wisdom of that approach and typically maintain separate accounts after marriage. The obvious intent is to be able to more easily go their separate ways if a divorce becomes inevitable. However, there’s more to the analysis than keeping assets separate.

The concept of equitable distribution, which guides Illinois property division in a divorce, indicates that although the general rule is that property acquired during marriage belongs to the souse who earned it, family courts have great discretion in crafting a final solution that is fair and equitable to both parties in consideration of all the facts and circumstances. While it is still important to keep assets separate and not co-mingle them, the best protection is a prenuptial agreement that specifically identifies each spouse’s property and what will occur in the event of a divorce.

Of course, a prenup is not necessarily bullet-proof either, but it is a good way to indicate the couple’s intent. An experienced family law attorney may provide counsel on all family legal issues, including post-divorce modification.