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What is the difference between marital and non-marital property?

In just about every divorce, the hot topic of property division arises. In Illinois, the only property subject to division is the assets that were acquired during the marriage, with some exceptions. As Forbes magazine points out, types of marital property include the following:

  • The value of items such as a home, cars and bank accounts
  • Investments and insurance policies
  • Home furnishings, collections and appliances
  • Benefits from current and previous employers
  • Cemetery plots
  • Memberships in clubs or golf courses

Gifts that you gave your spouse during the marriage are subject to division, but gifts prior to the event – like engagement rings – are considered separate, or non-marital property.

Defining non-marital property can be easy at a glance, because it includes anything that was acquired prior to the marriage. However, inheritance received during a marriage is not subject to division, nor is any income that is derived from non-marital assets.

It is important to note that if you commingle your non-marital property with marital assets, they will be subject to division. For example, if you received an inheritance from your aunt and then deposited the sum into a joint bank account with your spouse, the funds will likely be subject to division.

As outlined by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, property division is conducted on an equitable basis. Similarly, debts acquired during the marriage may be divided between the spouses. It is best for people going through a divorce to consult with an attorney in order to determine which assets may be protected and which may be divided.

While this information may be useful, it should not be taken as legal advice.

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