In a marriage, “yours” and “mine” become “ours.” Unfortunately, undoing this financial entanglement during divorce is one of the most complicated parts of the divorce process. Property held by the marital estate, or marital property, is jointly held by both spouses. Marital property must be properly valued and divided between the spouses in a divorce. Separate property, on the other hand, belongs only to one spouse. Typically, property either spouse acquires during the marriage is marital property and property a spouse owned prior to the marriage is separate property. However, differentiating between marital property and separate property is not so straightforward when assets have been commingled or mixed.
Property Rights During a Marriage
Illinois divorce cases are subject to the rules of equitable distribution. Spouses are entitled to a fair share of the marital estate. Spouses may negotiate a property division agreement, or, if they are unable to agree, the court will determine how the marital property should be divided.
Separate or non-marital property is property that:
Is excluded from the marital estate by a valid agreement such as a prenuptial agreement
A spouse owned before they got married
A spouse obtained through gift or inheritance
Any other assets are considered marital assets and are subject to division during divorce. However, understanding how property should be classified during divorce is not always this simple. Some assets are partially marital property and partially non-marital property. For example, retirement funds that accrued during the marriage may be marital property, while the portion of the retirement funds that accrued before the marriage are non-marital. Furthermore, property may lose its identity as either marital or non-marital if it is combined with other property.
Combining Property Can Change its Identity
Consider the following situation: A man inherits $10,000 from his grandmother. Because an inheritance is considered a non-marital asset, his spouse would not be entitled to a share of the inheritance money during divorce. However, the man then deposits the money into a shared savings account. He and his spouse use this account for home renovations and other joint expenses. The inheritance money has now been commingled with marital funds. If the spouses divorce, both spouses would likely be entitled to an equitable share of the entire savings account. The man could not claim the $10,000 as solely his property.
Contact a Markham Property Division Lawyer
Commingled assets are just one of the complicating factors that can impact property division during divorce. For help identifying, valuing, and dividing assets and debts during your divorce, contact the knowledgeable Joliet divorce lawyers at [[title]]. Call [[phone]] today for a confidential consultation.