If you have considered ending your marriage or have decided to divorce, you probably have questions about what will happen to all the accumulated property you and your spouse have. If you and your soon-to-be-ex are able to, you may decide how you divide things like residential property, furniture, vehicles, collectables, and bank accounts on your own. However, if you and your spouse are not able to come to an agreement about property division, the courts will be forced to intervene.
Illinois Courts Divide Property Based on What Is Equitable
States differ significantly on how property division is handled during divorce. Some states simply split a couples’ combined estate 50/50 and give half of all property or assets to one spouse and half to the other. Illinois, on the other hand, uses a set of guidelines called “equitable distribution” to divide assets during divorce. This method does not necessarily divide assets equally, but instead takes into consideration many factors to decide what is the most reasonable and fair way to distribute property.
Marital Property Is the Only Property Divided During Divorce
Many people have misconceptions about what is marital property and what is not. Generally, the majority of funds and property a married couple has is marital property. Anything which a spouse bought or earned throughout the course of the marriage is usually considered marital property. For example, income which was earned by either spouse during the marriage is considered marital property. Separate property is not divided during divorce and includes funds accumulated before a couple was married (if they have not been commingled or transmuted) and special gifts and inheritances.
Transmutation and Commingling Can Turn Non-Marital Property into Marital Property
Marital property is property accumulated during the marriage, and non-marital property or separate property is property accumulated before the marriage. It seems that differentiating between the two categories should be simple, but property division during a divorce can actually be quite complicated. Most people who get married combine their households and finances. In other words, they mix, or commingle, their assets. Combining funds in a joint bank account is one way that separate and marital property gets confused. Another way separate property becomes marital property is when an account containing separate funds is used to pay combined expenses. For example, a man who comes into a marriage with a sizeable savings account retains that money as non-marital property, but only if it is not used for family expenses. If the man uses the account to buy groceries or pay the mortgage, the entire account might be considered marital property by the court. This transference of funds is called transmutation. Separate property which has been comingled or transmuted becomes marital property and is therefore divided according to equitable distribution guidelines.
We Can Help
If all of this sounds overwhelming, do not worry. The experienced Wheaton divorce attorneys at the Andrew Cores Family Law Group are here to help. To schedule a completely confidential consultation at no cost to you, call us at 630-871-1002 today.