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What does Illinois law say about property division?

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Our readers who are familiar with previous posts here most likely know a lot about property division. They have heard about terms like "marital property" and "non-marital property." And readers can make sensible guesses about what each term means. But how does Illinois law define those terms? And what effect do those definitions have on couples going through the divorce process?

Marital property is a catch-all term covering almost all property acquired during marriage, regardless of which spouse acquired it. Did one spouse buy a car for themselves? That's marital property. Did the other spouse buy a set of golf clubs? That's marital property too.

However, not all property acquired during marriage is marital property, and Illinois law carves out certain types of property, like property acquired before the marriage, that is considered non-marital property. Non-martial property also includes things like an inheritance, property bought using other non-marital property and property acquired after the couple has legally separated.

A common curveball for those trying to split up their property is what Illinois law calls "commingling." For example, this occurs when spouses mix marital property and non-marital property together, such as when someone uses their inheritance to put money down on a family home. The inheritance was non-marital property, but becomes commingled with marital property. That commingling transforms the non-marital property into marital property.

But commingling is just one of many curveballs lurking for the unaware. Illinois residents considering a divorce may benefit from learning more about the potential curveballs in their own particular situation. Doing so could make a difference in the final property division split.

Source: ilga.gov, "Disposition of property," Accessed on Feb. 2, 2015

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