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What is marital and non-marital property in Illinois?


When two people get married, they start to share their lives with each other. If they should happen to get a divorce, they will also have to divide what they had been sharing. This can cause some disputes if both spouses want a certain piece of property or if one spouse has to give a significant portion of a bank or retirement account to the other spouse. However, under Illinois law, the couple must have an equitable division of the marital property. So, it is important to understand what is considered marital property in Illinois.

The general definition of marital property is all property acquired by either spouse during the marriage. This is includes money earned, retirement accounts, investment accounts, real property, stock options, personal items such as jewelry, automobiles, artwork and many other items.

However, a couple may also have property that is considered non-marital. This includes gifts or inheritance received by one spouse and any property received by a spouse in exchange for the gift or inheritance, property acquired by a spouse prior to the marriage, property agreed to be excluded by the parties, property gained after a legal separation and property received by one spouse from the other in a judgment. Non-marital property also includes any increase in value of the property listed above and income from said property as long as the income is not due to a spouse's effort.

In many cases a couple may co-mingle non-marital property with marital property during the marriage. When that occurs the co-mingled property is generally considered marital property unless one spouse put in effort into the non-marital property or the non-marital property was a gift. In some cases of co-mingled property one spouse may be entitled to reimbursement. However, the non-marital contribution must be traceable and the spouse's personal effort must cause the property to significantly increase in value.

Property division during a divorce can be a complicated matter, especially if the couple has extensive property or is undergoing a high asset divorce. This post is only meant to provide general information about property division and is not legal advice. If one is going through a divorce, experienced attorneys may be able to help guide one through the division of property and other divorce legal issues.

Source: Illinois General Assembly, "750 ILCS 5/503," accessed Dec. 8, 2014

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