The distribution of assets is an important element in most Illinois divorce cases, and it can often lead to misunderstandings and arguments between the spouses. Items with sentimental value may cause even more disagreements than higher-value assets such as the marital home or vehicles, as both spouses might have an emotional attachment, making them less agreeable to parting with a particular piece of property. If you are interested in keeping a family heirloom, a specific work of art, or any other item with sentimental value, there are some ways you might be able to do so.
Is the Item a Marital Asset?
Whether or not a sentimental item is considered marital property depends on several factors. The two most important factors are when and how the item was acquired. Under Illinois law, an asset is generally considered marital property if it was acquired by either spouse during the marriage. If the item in question was yours before you got married, you typically have the right to keep it following your divorce.
It also matters how the item was acquired. Property acquired during the marriage can be considered non-marital if it was received as an inheritance specifically to one spouse. This means that if you inherited an heirloom from a family member, it is likely to be considered yours and not subject to being divided in the divorce process. The same is true of a gift if it is made to just one spouse.