A difficult part of a divorce is dividing marital property. Illinois judges are required to divide marital property equitably, which mains fairly under the circumstances. However, it does not necessarily mean that marital property will be divided equally. Before marital property can be divided, it must be decided what is marital property and what it is not.
Illinois generally treats all property acquired after the date of a marriage as marital property. However, the law also provides several exceptions. The following types of property are not considered marital property:
- Property acquired by gift;
- Property that was inherited or bequeathed in a will or trust;
- Property exchanged for property acquired as a gift, inheritance, or bequeathed in a will or trust;
- Any property excluded as part of a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement;
- Property acquired before the marriage;
- Any property acquired after a legal separation; and
- Any income or increase in value to any property listed above.
Common examples of non-marital property include money or real estate one spouse owned before the marriage, or money or real estate one of the spouses inherits upon the death of a family member.
If you are not careful, it is easy for separate property to become marital property. If you mix your property with marital property, it becomes commingled and is no longer your separate property. Instead it is part of the marital estate.
If you inherit $10,000 from your deceased grandmother, but you place these funds in the joint checking account, that money has become marital property, even though it was originally excluded from the marital estate.
Another common example is if you own a house before the marriage. You sell the house after the marriage and use some of the proceeds from the sale of that house to buy a new house for you and your spouse. Your original house and the money you received from its sale were non-marital property until you commingled it and bought the family home.
Right of Reimbursement
In some instances one spouse can be reimbursed by the other spouse for contributions of separate property to the marital estate. In the example above where one spouse contributed separate property to the purchase of a family home, that spouse may be able to demand reimbursement for his or her contribution as part of the marital property division.
Another example of reimbursement comes into play when one spouse contributes labor or resources to the other spouse’s separate property. If one spouse owns a house or business, and the other spouse does considerable amounts of work on the business or house, and is not compensated for these efforts, that spouse may be able to ask to be reimbursed for the value of the services as part of the divorce property division.
If you are considering a divorce or have questions about marital property, you need to speak with a knowledgeable Naperville divorce lawyer right away. Call 630-665-7676 today to schedule your consultation. You need to understand your rights.