Like most states, Illinois uses the equitable property division method for splitting up assets and debts in divorce. Divorcing couples must split up their marital assets “equitably” — in other words, reasonably fairly.
For most couples in the Chicago area, most of the valuable items the two own will be marital property that will have to be divided up somehow. Most — but not all. Things that are non-marital assets belong to their owner solely. When they get divorced, they walk away with all of their non-marital, or separate, property.
Examples of non-marital property
Common examples of non-marital assets include:
- Property owned by one spouse before the marriage that remained in their name
- Property given to just one of the spouses during the marriage, such as a gift
- Property inherited by one spouse
For example, if you buy a car and put only your name on the title, that is non-marital property. You would not have to buy out your ex’s share of the car to keep it after your divorce. Similarly, if you inherit a classic car from a relative when they pass away, that car belongs to you alone. Finally, if you bought the car before your marriage began, the car would still belong to you alone, unless you added your spouse’s name to the title at some point.
Proving that cash is nonmarital property can be complicated. Most of the time, spouses have their own bank accounts and other cash assets before their marriage. But those funds can become “commingled” with each other, such as by going into a joint checking or savings account. When a family law judge rules that a non-marital asset has become commingled, it then goes into the marital asset bucket for division between the spouses.
For most people, one of their top goals for their divorce is to make sure they get their fair share of the marital property. They want to be on solid financial footing. The best way to approach divorce is with the help of an experienced family law attorney.