Reeder & Brown, P.C.



Asset Division Attorneys Serving Clients in Joliet and Bolingbrook

At the Joliet-based law firm of Reeder & Brown, P.C., our family law attorneys understand that dividing marital property during divorce can be challenging. This is especially true if a couple's marital estate includes complex business holdings, real estate investments, and other high-value assets. Things can also become complicated when each spouse brings substantial assets into the marriage.

If you are facing an imminent divorce, it is important to understand how Illinois law and the courts will divide the property that you and your spouse have accumulated during your marriage. With this in mind, our lawyers will help you analyze your situation and develop a strategy that ensures you have the resources you need to move on to the next stage of your life.

Understanding Marital Property in Illinois

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5) specifies that a divorcing couple's marital property is to be divided between the spouses "in just proportions" based on a consideration of all of the relevant factors of the marriage and divorce. This means that you are entitled to a fair share of the marital property, but not necessarily an equal share. The law defines marital assets as "all property, including debts and other obligations, acquired by either spouse subsequent to the marriage," with some exceptions. These exceptions include property received by either party as a gift or inheritance and property excluded from the marital estate by a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

Premarital Property and Inheritances

Illinois law recognizes property acquired before the marriage as non-marital property. The spouse who brought the property to the marriage will generally be entitled to keep it after the divorce. This also applies to money or other property received in exchange for premarital property. For example, if you owned a fully paid-off classic car before you got married, that car would be considered non-marital property in your divorce, and you would be entitled to keep it. Similarly, if you sold the car several years into the marriage and kept the proceeds of the sale separate from "regular" family funds, the money you received would also be yours to keep after your divorce.

Under the law in Illinois, the same is true for "property acquired by gift, legacy, or descent"—in other words, gifts and inheritances. In order to be considered non-marital property, the gift or inheritance must be given exclusively to one of the spouses and kept separate from family assets.

Addressing Asset Ownership Through Premarital or Postmarital Agreements

To avoid complications or conflict related to different types of assets, spouses may choose to enter into legal agreements that define certain assets as either marital or non-marital property. A prenuptial agreement may be used in situations where one or both spouses own valuable assets before getting married, and this type of agreement may specify that these assets will continue to be separate property owned by that spouse. Couples may also choose to create a postnuptial agreement at any time during their marriage, and this type of agreement may address assets they have purchased or acquired during their marriage. For example, if a spouse founded a business during their marriage, a postnuptial agreement may state that they will be the sole owner of the business in the event of divorce.

Commingled Property Concerns in Naperville and Aurora

At Reeder & Brown, P.C., we recognize the importance of keeping marital and non-marital assets separate in order for them to maintain their respective identities. Failure to keep non-marital assets separate could cause them to be "transmuted" to the marital estate as commingled property. When non-marital property is commingled with marital property in such a way that the non-marital property loses its identity, the commingled property is considered marital property.

As an example, consider a scenario in which you receive a $100,000 inheritance from the estate of a deceased loved one. Instead of keeping the money separate, you put your inheritance together with $150,000 that you and your spouse had saved, and you use the combined funds as a down payment on a $600,000 home. Over the next 15 years, you and your spouse raise a family in the home and use your income to make mortgage payments until the house is paid off. Five years after paying off the house, you file for divorce. The $100,000 inheritance you received 20 years ago could have been considered non-marital property, but you commingled it with marital assets—the savings and the monthly mortgage payments—in such a way that the inheritance lost its identity as a non-marital asset. While you would be entitled to an equitable share of the value of the home in your divorce, you would not likely receive your $100,000 inheritance back.

Contact Our Joliet Property Division Attorneys

Identifying the assets that comprise the marital estate is a crucial part of an Illinois divorce. If you have questions about the process, contact our firm to get the answers you need. Call 815-885-5980 for a free, confidential consultation at Reeder & Brown, P.C. today. We provide legal help to clients in and around Will County, including in the communities of Joliet, Bolingbrook, Plainfield, Aurora, Naperville, Homer Glen, Romeoville, New Lenox, Mokena, Crest Hill, and Lockport.

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