If you are considering divorce or already a party to a dissolution of marriage case in Illinois, you might already know that division of property will be one of the key issues in the proceedings. State law on the topic requires equitable distribution of marital assets, basically describing a two-step process. You first classify real estate and personal property as being marital or separate. Assets owned by a spouse before the wedding are generally his or hers to keep. Marital assets acquired during the marriage are subject to equitable distribution, which means dividing them fairly instead of an exact 50-50 split.
However, this summary of Illinois property division laws does not account for complexities, such as how inheritance works. Because the statute also includes a legal presumption that can be rebutted by evidence to the contrary, you might be surprised to learn how certain assets are treated. Chicago divorce lawyers encounter asset division complications regularly, so it is wise to trust an attorney to handle challenges. Some basics about inheritance in Illinois divorce may also be useful.
Definition of Marital Property
The default definition of marital property is any asset acquired by the couple while married, as well as any debts they incur over the course of the marriage. There are numerous exceptions listed in the statute, including:
- Property a spouse receives by gif
- Items the parties agreed, in writing, would be excluded from marital assets
- Property or funds one spouse receives via legacy in a will or descent under Illinois intestacy laws – both of which would be considered inheritance
If the item is non-marital, it belongs to the individual party and is not subject to equitable distribution.
Factors That Impact Equitable Distribution
The line is pretty clear when it comes to inheritance is separate property, but assets received from a loved one who passed may still play a role in divorce. The reason is that the court must go through the assessment of the equitable distribution of marital assets to complete the property division process. The statute points out some factors that the judge may consider, and inheritance may impact the evaluation as follows:
- One spouse’s efforts might lead to an increase or decrease in the value of a non-marital inheritance, which could be important for real estate and other assets.
- The court considers the value of the non-marital property assigned to individual spouses, including assets received by will or intestate succession.
- A judge reviews the relevant economic circumstances of the parties upon the division of property, which are affected by inheritance to one spouse.
- Each party’s needs and liabilities are a factor, and the spouse receiving the inheritance may require less support in these areas.
- Another issue is each spouse’s future opportunities for acquisition of assets, and the party with an inheritance may be in a better position.
Our Chicago Divorce Lawyers Can Explain Marital Property and Inheritance Laws
To learn more about the application of Illinois property division laws to specific assets, please contact Chicago divorce attorney Michael C. Craven. You can set up a no-cost initial consultation by calling (312) 621-5234. We can provide additional details after evaluating your unique circumstances.
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