When you decide to pursue a divorce, there are many things to consider. You will need to decide on arrangements for your children, whether to ask for spousal support, and which of you will get to keep certain items that you bought together. But, what about assets that are only titled in your name? Do you automatically get to keep those? The answer is more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no” and requires a more complete understanding of Illinois’ laws regarding marital and non-marital property.
According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), the marital property of a couple going through a divorce must be divided in a manner that is fair and just, not necessarily equally. This standard is known as “equitable distribution,” and it is used in 41 states plus the District of Columbia. Before marital property can be divided, however, the couple—or the court—must determine which assets are considered to be marital property.
The IMDMA specifies that any assets or debts acquired during the marriage by either spouse are generally considered to be marital property. There a few, limited exceptions for gifts, inheritances, and judgments awarded to one spouse. Property that was acquired before the marriage is considered non-marital or separate property, as are the proceeds of the sale of any property that would be considered non-marital. Separate or non-marital property remains with the original owner during a divorce.
Titles Are Not Important
Because marital property includes most assets acquired by either spouse during the marriage, the name on the title of a particular asset is largely irrelevant. How the asset was purchased or acquired matters much more than the title does. For example, assume that you financed a new car. You were the primary wage-earner, so the loan was in your name only, as was the title. During your marriage, you were the only one to drive that car, and you made loan payments each month using your regular earnings.
In a divorce, that car would still be considered marital property. From a practical standpoint, your divorce judgment may allow you to keep the car based on how it was used, but the value will need to be accounted for in the division of property. If, on the other hand, you had purchased the car with an inheritance left to you by a relative, you would have a stronger case for it being considered non-marital property.
Contact Us for Help
If you are considering a divorce and have questions about the distribution of marital property in Illinois, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Call 630-871-1002 to schedule your free initial consultation at Andrew Cores Family Law Group today.