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Protecting your non-marital property during a divorce

During a divorce, many people in Illinois discover that possessions they thought were personal will still be shared with a spouse when the judge is deciding who will get what. According to the Illinois General Assembly, anything that was bought or obtained by either spouse during a marriage is considered marital property, while non-marital property typically refers to assets obtained before the marriage. However, there are some exceptions that change the status of property acquired both before and after a marriage.

A common exception made when it comes to non-marital property would be retirement plans obtained before marriage. These plans frequently take on characteristics of marital property, so they are often considered such by the court.

Another exception to the rule would be something received as a gift by one spouse during the marriage, such as an inheritance, which remains separate from any use that contributes to the assets of the couple. In addition, a spouse could use that non-marital property to acquire another asset and keep it separate from the marital property, and it would remain a non-marital asset. In any other situation, a spouse has to provide clear proof that asset is not marital property.

One way to prevent an asset bought or otherwise obtained during the marriage from division is by coming to an agreement during the divorce on how to distribute property. Forbes reported that once property becomes commingled, in the eyes of the court, it is marital property. Commingling is when property becomes jointly owned, which includes putting inherited money in a shared account or adding a spouse’s name to the title of something owned before the marriage. To protect non-marital property, the spouse will have to keep it separate during the marriage. 

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