Illinois is an equitable distribution state, which means that marital assets will be allocated fairly by a divorce judge. This means that you could lose control of a business, equity in a home or other assets that you want to keep. However, there are ways to shield certain items from being taken by your spouse as part of a final settlement.
Put assets in a trust
One effective method for protecting your assets before a divorce is to take them out of the marital estate. This can be done by putting a business, car or brokerage account into a trust. Ideally, you will do this as soon as you acquire the asset as waiting to establish a trust may make it easier to prove that it was created in bad faith. In such a scenario, the trust can be pierced and items put back within your spouse’s reach.
Create a prenuptial agreement
A prenuptial agreement essentially overrides state laws regarding property division. For instance, you could stipulate that money generated by your company remains in your possession if the marriage ends. Alternatively, you could opt for a postnuptial agreement to cover assets that were acquired after the marriage became official. These types of documents can also be used to stipulate that neither party to the marriage is entitled to alimony or other resources if the marriage were to fail.
When structured correctly, a trust or prenuptial agreement will typically be honored by state courts. You may also use tax records, bank statements and other records to prove that items should be labeled separate property or that you otherwise have a right to keep them. These records may also make it easier to ask for and receive alimony or child support from your spouse.