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How a Gift Can Become a Marital PropertyItems that you received as gifts during your marriage are usually considered to be non-marital property. A gift that your spouse gave to you for your birthday or anniversary is non-marital, even though your spouse used marital money to purchase it. However, a divorce court may classify a gift as marital property and subject to division, depending on the intent behind the gift and how you used it. Here are four examples of how a gift can become marital property:

  1. Gift for Both: The court will distinguish between gifts that are meant for you only and gifts meant for you and your spouse. Wedding presents are a common example of gifts that are marital property because the giver intended you to use it as a married couple. Your spouse may argue that other gifts were given to you as a couple. You need to explain the reason for the gift and whether your spouse used it.
  2. Gift as a Loan: A gift by definition is an asset that someone donates to you with no expectation of compensation. Money that a family member gives you becomes a loan instead of a gift if you agree to pay that money back. Loans that you receive during your marriage are marital debts, which can be divided during a divorce. The best ways to prove that a gift was a loan are showing a promissory note or asking the person who gave the money what his or her intentions were.
  3. Gift as a Reward: An asset is not a gift if you received it in exchange for another asset or your services. The circumstances around receiving the asset can determine whether it was a gift or a reward. A court may interpret a monetary gift as compensation if the giver was thanking you for your help or expected you to perform a service soon after.
  4. Gift Treated as Marital Property: Even a gift that is meant for you alone can become a marital property depending on what you do with it. For instance, money that you inherit is a non-marital property as long as you keep it separate from your marital money. If you put the money in a shared bank account, it gets mixed in with your marital money and may no longer be an individual asset.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Attorney

You bear the burden of proof when you claim that an item from your marriage was a gift and is not marital property. A Kane County divorce lawyer at Goostree Law Group can find evidence that the item was intended as a gift to you. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.

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Posted on in Marital Property

Kane County divorce attorneysIf you are thinking about a divorce, you probably realize that you and your spouse will need to figure out a plan for dividing the property that you own as a couple. You may also understand that if you cannot reach an agreement on your own, the court will need to step in and divide your assets and debts for you. Finally, you may even know that the property division laws in Illinois are based on the principals of equitable distribution, which means that, if left to the court, your marital property will be divided in a way that is fair and just, not necessarily evenly.

Many individuals, however, are unsure about what the law considers to be marital property. Countless movies and television shows suggest that just about anything a person has ever owned—both prior to and during the marriage—is fair game in a divorce. Fictional characters are often encouraged to be wary of marriage because if it ends badly, his or her spouse will supposedly get half of everything. Assuming that the marital property was supposed to be split 50/50 in Illinois, a spouse would not be entitled to a share of anything the other party ever owned. Instead, the law provides a definition of what comprises the marital estate which, at times, can be a little complicated.

When the Property Was Acquired

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property-divisionBig changes have come to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, effective January 1, 2016. These changes include new rules regarding child custody, property division, grounds for divorce, and the period of time a couple must be separated from each other before they may file for divorce. 

Property Will be Valued by its Market Value Standard

Under the changes to the law, the court will determine the value of a couple's property by applying the fair market value standard. This means that a couple's property will be appraised according to its worth on the date that the court handles the couple's property division, rather than by considering factors like the property's cost and potential for depreciation. If necessary, the court can bring in an outside financial expert to appraise a couple's property. The divorcing couple may be held responsible for the cost of the professional appraiser.

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marital propertyIn a divorce, one of the most important aspects is the division of the couple's marital property. This is done to ensure that each partner exits the marriage with an appropriate share of the body of assets that he or she worked to build while the couple was married. In Illinois, this is done according to the principle of equitable distribution, meaning that a couple's property is not divided 50/50, but according to a set of factors, such as each partner's income and the length of the couple's marriage. In nearly all marriages, the couple's home is the most valuable piece of property they own. However, a home's value is more than just its market price. The amount of money the couple still owes on their mortgage and the house's projected appreciation factor into its value in the property division process. To determine a fair appraisal of a couple's home, a third party appraiser might be brought in to examine all relevant factors to find its value. If a real estate appraisal is a necessary part of your divorce, your attorney can help make sure you receive a fair appraisal quote.

Work with a Reputable Appraiser

Talk to your attorney or use the internet to find a real estate appraiser who has a record of giving accurate, fair appraisals. If you can find an appraiser who has experience working with divorcing couples for this purposes, working with him or her is in your best interest. Be sure to work with an appraiser who is certified by the state of Illinois and part of a nationally-recognized appraisal organization.

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