What is Not Considered Marital Property in Illinois?
Dividing up marital property equitably can be one of the most stressful parts of a divorce. Depending on the length of the marriage, couples may amass quite a bit of shared property that will need to be split before the divorce is finalized. Of course, the first step to the equitable division of marital property is determining what exactly is - and is not - marital property. While it is true that most things a married couple has are considered marital property, Illinois law carves out a few exceptions. Most married individuals own some individual property, whether they realize it or not.
If you are struggling with the division of property in your divorce, you should contact a qualified divorce attorney as soon as you can. Divorces can be highly contentious proceedings, and some will try to take advantage of unrepresented parties. Always consult an attorney before agreeing to give any property that you believe is rightfully yours.
What is Non-Marital Property in Illinois?
Non-marital property, or individual property, is not subject to equitable distribution during a divorce. It remains with the spouse it solely belongs to. Non-marital property includes:
- Pre-marital property - Anything you owned in your own name before the marriage and kept solely in your name belongs only to you.
- Gifts - Money or items given to one spouse as a gift is the sole property of that spouse.
- Inheritance - Property is typically passed down from generation to generation with the intention for that wealth to stay in the family. Allowing a person who merely married into the family to take that generational gift out of the family through divorce defeats that goal. Inheritances are non-marital property in Illinois.
- Proceeds from separate property - Increases in value or direct profits made from a non-marital asset are only the property of the spouse who owns that asset.
- Post-separation - Anything one spouse acquires after the couple is formally, legally, separated is non-marital property. The marriage is suspended by legal separation, so it does not make sense to pour any new assets into the marriage.
- Agreement - Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements can validly specify that certain property is not to become marital property.
Some of these categories can be ambiguous and encompass large grey areas. Many couples live together and share finances for extended periods of time before marrying. Spouses may also combine their non-marital property by using non-marital funds to benefit the marriage or by co-mingling funds that would have otherwise remained separate. You may need the knowledge base of a skilled attorney to sort out this issue.
Call a Kane County Divorce Attorney
Divorce is a long and exhausting process, whether your spouse is cooperative or fighting you at every step. The Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Associates can help you protect your individual property during a contentious divorce. Our experienced Geneva divorce lawyers are dedicated to protecting our clients’ interests at every stage in a divorce proceeding. Call 630-232-9700 to schedule a free consultation.