What Is Considered Marital Property?

 Posted on December 08, 2016 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

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act specifies that marital property includes all assets and debts acquired by either spouse during their marriage. There are limited exceptions for property received as a gift or through an inheritance. Property that was owned by either spouse before the marriage or acquired after a judgment of legal separation is considered non-marital and is not subject to division during the divorce.

It is important to note that the law does not make reference to the name on an account or an ownership deed. That is because the name on a title or account is not indicative of whether the property is considered marital. For example, if a husband opened a checking account in his name only during the marriage and funded it using his normal work-related income, the account would be a marital asset in a divorce. If, however, he opened an account is his name only during the marriage but funded it with money he received as an inheritance several years before the marriage, the account would likely be considered non-marital property in a divorce.

Other Possible Complications

Determining what is marital property can also be difficult when spouses bring significant assets to the marriage. In some cases, a spouse may contribute money that was not marital to a cause related to the marriage, causing it to lose its identity as non-marital and becoming part of the marital estate. For example, a spouse may have pre-marital savings which he or sometimes uses to make mortgage payments on the marital home. If he or she does not keep track of such payments carefully, the money spent will likely be transmuted into equity value in the home, which would be considered a marital asset. It can be very challenging for the average person to determine how to account for such contributions, but it is a necessary part of the divorce process

Call Our Office Today

Getting divorced can be complicated, but an experienced Kane County family law attorney can help simplify the proceedings. Call Goostree Law Group 630-584-4800 to schedule your free consultation today and get the assistance you need from a team committed to protecting your rights.




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