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What is the Difference Between Marital and Nonmarital Property? 

 Posted on August 09,2021 in Property Division

joliet asset division lawyerOne of the most contentious issues in an Illinois divorce is the division of assets. Assets are considered either marital or nonmarital, but it is not always easy to determine which category an asset falls into. What if you owned a home before getting married and the mortgage was always in your name, but your spouse helped you make payments on it throughout the marriage? What if you inherited $10,000 from your grandfather, but placed it into a bank account that you shared with your spouse? 

In this blog post, we will examine the difference between marital and nonmarital assets and the factors that can help a judge determine how assets are categorized. The terms “assets” and “property” mean the same thing and are used interchangeably. Keep in mind that this article is not meant to be legal advice and that the best way to obtain a satisfactory asset division in your divorce is to hire an experienced divorce attorney. 

What is Considered Marital Property in Illinois? 

Generally, marital property is any asset, whether liquid (such as a savings account) or illiquid (such as a home) that was acquired during the marriage. Whether one spouse had his or her name on the title is not usually important if spouses acquired, jointly used, or jointly paid for the asset during the marriage. Common examples of marital property include:

  • The marital home and other real estate

  • Cars and other vehicles

  • Investment accounts, retirement account, and pension plans

  • Life insurance policies

  • Cash, such as money held in savings or checking accounts

All marital property is subject to division in a divorce. Each spouse is entitled to an equitable share - meaning that judges seek to divide assets in a fair way, rather than exactly 50/50.

What is Considered Non-Marital Property in Illinois?

Nonmarital property is property that belongs exclusively to one spouse, before, during, and after the marriage and is not subject to division in a divorce. Examples of nonmarital property include:

  • Property that was acquired by inheritance, gift, or descent

  • Property that was purchased by one spouse before the marriage, and which remains exclusively in that spouse’s name

  • Property that was excluded from joint marital ownership by a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement

Although in theory, it is easy to tell which assets are marital and non-marital property, it can get more confusing in practice due to several factors. For example, if a woman owns property in her name alone, but during the marriage her spouse contributed financially to the upkeep and the property value increases, her spouse may be entitled to a portion of the value of the property at the time of the divorce. If a man inherits money from his grandfather and then places it into a bank account he and his wife use for marital expenses, that money may be seen as marital property. 

Contact a Joliet, IL Asset Division Attorney

Understanding how marital assets are divided is crucial when you are entering divorce negotiations. An experienced Will County divorce attorney with Reeder & Brown, P.C., will help you understand Illinois law and advocate on your behalf so you get the best outcome possible. Contact our office for a free and confidential consultation. Call us today at 815-885-5980



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