If you are going through a divorce in Illinois, you know firsthand the struggles that come with dividing marital property. Illinois is one of many states in the nation that use the equitable division of property when determining distribution in the final decree. 

A court appointed judge may determine who receives what in the settlement depending on what he or she deems ‘fair and equitable,’ or a couple may negotiate the terms of their own property division through mediation. Yet, there may be some property that cannot be divided in a divorce. 

What is separate property? 

Separate property, also referred to as ‘non-marital’ property, may remain with the original owner even after the divorce is finalized, according to Illinois statutes. While marital property involves all items amassed during the marriage, separate property includes the following: 

  • Property and assets owned prior to the marriage 
  • Inheritance money left to you by a deceased relative or family friend 
  • Gifts given to you by a third-party 
  • Personal injury compensation  

In addition, any property acquired after you become legally separated should remain in your possession during the divorce process. 

Can separate property become marital property? 

There are some situations where non-marital property can transform into marital property and then be eligible for division in the final decree. This may occur if you have your name on the title and then later add your spouse’s name to the title. Furthermore, if you have inheritance money and then mix it with marital funds by depositing it into a joint banking account, the money loses its separate status and is considered community property. 

If you own separate property, it is critical that you do not mix or intermingle the items or assets with community property to ensure it stays with you after the divorce is finalized.