A personal jewelry collection is accumulated over many years and is often made up of gifts, inheritances, and collectible pieces bought during travels to faraway places or in locations of great personal significance. When an Illinois couple is facing a divorce, a spouse who has a significant jewelry collection may justifiably feel sorrow and frustration at the idea that their personal collection may be considered part of the marital estate and subject to a claim from the other spouse, whether all or in part.
Nevertheless, all assets must be accounted for during a divorce. Determining whether a piece of jewelry is personal or marital property is not always easy and, because of this and other complications, having the help of an experienced asset division attorney can be very helpful when managing the division of marital assets.
Is Jewelry Personal Property in an Illinois Divorce?
Certain types of property are exempt from the asset division process. Gifts and inheritances, including property purchased with inherited funds, generally are not considered marital property and remain in the exclusive possession of the person who inherited or was given them.
But what happens when one spouse claims a piece of jewelry was a gift and the other spouse claims it was not? And does it matter if jewelry was given to one spouse by the other, or given to the couple jointly by someone else?
When it comes to determining whether a piece of property is truly a gift, it can be helpful to answer the following questions:
- Was the gift given on a special occasion, such as an anniversary or wedding day?
- Who was the gift specifically given to?
- Who was expected to use the gift – and was use actually limited to just one person?
For example, if one spouse traveled to Africa and purchased a valuable stone, then returned home to Illinois, gift-wrapped the stone, and gave it to the other spouse for her birthday with a romantic note, that stone would probably be considered the personal property of the spouse to whom it was given.
However, if one spouse’s great-aunt gifted a couple a valuable piece of jewelry on their wedding day and the gift was addressed to both spouses, that jewelry would likely be considered marital property, even if only one spouse had a particularly close relationship with the great-aunt.
Meet with a DuPage County Asset Division Attorney
Jewelry is often among someone’s most prized possessions and the idea of losing it or even valuing sentimental pieces can be emotionally painful. At Calabrese Associates, P.C., our Naperville, IL asset division lawyers are committed to helping you negotiate a property settlement that honors your treasured pieces and ensures equity across your entire asset spectrum. Call us today at 630-393-3111 to schedule a confidential case review.