Identifying Separate and Marital Assets
When legally ending a marriage in Illinois, couples are required to divide their marital assets in an equitable manner. This makes the determination of whether an asset is marital or separate extremely important, so if you and your spouse are contemplating divorce and you have questions about whether you will need to share a certain asset, it is important to speak with an experienced Lombard, IL property division lawyer who can help you.
Separate vs. Marital Property
In Illinois, the date of a couple’s marriage is usually used to differentiate between the separate and marital assets of two parties. Generally, anything that one spouse owned before marriage will remain his or her property even in the event of divorce. On the other hand, anything purchased or acquired after a marriage takes place, whether by one spouse or by both spouses together, is considered marital property and must be divided in an equitable manner.
It’s important to note that there are exceptions to these general rules. For instance, gifts given to one person during a marriage are considered separate property, as are any inheritances received by one party. Other exceptions to this rule include:
- Property acquired in exchange for a separate asset, including items purchased with separate funds (as long as those funds weren’t commingled in a shared account)
- Property acquired after a legal separation unless the assets were purchased with joint funds
- Property governed by a pre or postnuptial agreement, as these contracts can override Illinois’s default property rules
Besides these specific exceptions, there are a number of circumstances when it will not be very clear whether an asset is separate or marital. In fact, in some cases, an asset can have the components of both separate and marital property. If, for example, a person owned a retirement account before marriage, but made additional contributions after getting married, then the assets owned before marriage will qualify as separate property, while post-marriage-date contributions will be categorized as marital property.
Preliminary Steps for Identifying Assets
After taking all of these rules and exceptions into account, divorcing couples can take a few different steps to help them begin identifying separate and marital assets, including:
- Preparing an inventory of all assets, making note of when and how the property was acquired
- Compiling bank account and credit card statements
- Collecting tax records
- Making copies of loan records
- Scheduling an appointment with a divorce lawyer
Overlooking an asset during the property division process can have serious consequences and can ultimately affect a couple’s final property settlement agreement. To avoid this, you should consider working closely with an experienced attorney.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a DuPage County Property Division Lawyer
To set up a case review with one of the dedicated DuPage County property division lawyers at Aldrich & Siedlarz Law, P.C., please call our office at 630-953-3000. You can also request an appointment by completing an online contact form. There is no charge for initial consultations, so don’t hesitate to reach out to our legal team by phone or online message today.