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What Determines Whether An Asset Is Marital Or Nonmarital Property?

In Illinois, equitable property division is a very important aspect of divorce that can significantly impact the financial well-being of both parties. The court is tasked with getting a comprehensive financial picture of the parties’ assets and debts in order to determine the most equitable way to divide those assets and debts. The first step in this process is to determine which assets belong to the marriage (marital property) and which assets belong to the parties individually, outside of the marriage (nonmarital property).

Understanding the distinction between marital and nonmarital property is essential, as the two kinds of property are divided up differently during the divorce process. Illinois law provides guidelines for classifying assets as marital or nonmarital, which includes applying various factors discussed further below.

Definition of Marital and Nonmarital Property

Marital property refers to many types of assets acquired by either spouse during the marriage and applies regardless of how the asset is titled. These types of property include (with some exception) income earned by either spouse, property acquired with marital funds, and other assets, such as real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and personal belongings acquired during the marriage.

Nonmarital property, on the other hand, encompasses assets acquired by either spouse before the marriage, as well as gifts, inheritances, and certain types of property acquired during the marriage. Nonmarital property typically is awarded to the original individual spouse as their sole property. There are exceptions in situations where nonmarital property has been converted into marital property by commingling funds or retitling the property into the names of both spouses. The court would then evaluate whether the nonmarital property has been transmuted into marital property and should be considered part of the marital estate.

Note that some assets might be considered both marital and nonmarital property. This situation typically arises with retirement accounts, where a spouse opened a retirement account prior to the marriage and continued contributing to the account during the marriage. In that case, there is a process to determine which portion of the account should be awarded to the spouse as their nonmarital property and which portion of the account belongs to the marital estate and needs to be divided between both parties.

In determining the final division of property, the court considers the financial position both parties will be in when the divorce is finalized, which includes considering any nonmarital property they will be awarded. Therefore, each party’s individual assets, both marital and nonmarital, must be equitable in order to follow Illinois law.

Factors Considered in Determining Marital vs. Nonmarital Property

Several factors are taken into account when determining whether an asset is a marital or nonmarital property:

1. Date of Acquisition – The timing of when the asset was acquired is a significant factor. Assets acquired before the marriage are nearly exclusively nonmarital property, while those obtained during the marriage are typically classified as marital property.

2. Source of Funds – Another critical consideration is the source of funds used to acquire an asset. If marital funds were used to purchase an asset, it will largely be classified as marital property, even if it is titled in only one spouse’s name.

3. Purpose of Acquisition – The purpose for which an asset was acquired can also influence its classification. Assets acquired for the joint benefit of both spouses during the marriage are often considered marital property, regardless of how the asset is titled.

4. Commingling of Assets – When nonmarital property is mixed or commingled with marital property, it can become challenging to distinguish between the two. Commingling of assets can occur when nonmarital funds are deposited into a joint bank account or when marital and nonmarital assets are combined or used to acquire new property. Where this arises, it becomes a factual question for the court to determine in order to appropriately divide up the asset.

5. Intention of the Parties – The spouses’ intentions regarding the ownership and use of the asset can also play a role in determining its classification. Clear evidence of intent, such as a prenuptial agreement or written documentation, helps tp establish whether an asset is a marital or nonmarital property.

Role of a Downers Grove Property Division Attorney

Navigating the complexities of property division in a divorce can be a bit confusing, especially when determining the classification of assets as marital or nonmarital property. Our skilled Downers Grove property division attorneys can provide invaluable assistance. They can assess the unique circumstances of your case, gather relevant evidence, and advocate for your rights to ensure a fair and equitable division of assets.

By partnering with our property division attorneys, you can protect your interests and maximize your chances of securing a favorable outcome in property division proceedings. Whether negotiating a settlement or litigating the matter in court, an experienced attorney will gather a thorough understanding of the marital or nonmarital character of property and apply Illinois law to the facts of your case to achieve the best possible result for you.

Understanding what determines whether an asset is marital or nonmarital property is a key part of the divorce process in Illinois. A lawyer can guide your understanding and application of Illinois law to the property at issue in your case, considering factors such as the date of acquisition, source of funds, purpose of acquisition, commingling of assets, and intention of the parties. With the assistance of our skilled Downers Grove property division attorney, individuals can navigate the complexities of property division and protect their rights during divorce proceedings.

Call Our Downers Grove Property Division Attorney

Contact our Downers Grove property division attorney at SBK Law Group by dialing 630-427-4407 to schedule your free consultation. Our firm offers tailored advice to shield your assets and advocate for your interests. Rely on SBK Law Group to guide you through the intricacies of property division and attain peace of mind for the journey ahead.

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