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Non-Marital Property

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Non-Marital Property Division Lawyer in Chicago

In most cases, property that is individually held by a spouse and was acquired before the marriage is considered the non-marital property of that party. This may include assets, debts, and other obligations.

Section 503 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act defines property as non-marital if the property is:

  • Acquired by gift, legacy, or descent or property acquired in exchange for such property;
  • Acquired in exchange for property acquired before the marriage;
  • Acquired by a spouse after a judgment of legal separation;
  • Excluded by valid agreement of the parties, including a premarital or postnuptial agreement.

Property considered non-marital in Illinois may also include:

  • Any judgment or property obtained by judgment awarded to a spouse from the other spouse except, however, when a spouse is required to sue the other spouse in order to obtain insurance coverage or otherwise recover from a third party and the recovery is directly related to amounts advanced by the marital estate, the judgment shall be considered marital property;
  • Property acquired before the marriage, except as it relates to retirement plans that may have both marital and non-marital characteristics;
    • All property acquired by a spouse by the sole use of the non-marital property as collateral for a loan that then is used to acquire property during the marriage; to the extent that the marital estate repays any portion of the loan, it shall be considered a contribution from the marital estate to the non-marital estate subject to reimbursement provided in subsection (c) of this Section;
  • The increase in the value of the non-marital property, irrespective of whether the increase results from a contribution of marital property, non-marital property, the personal effort of a spouse, or otherwise, subject to the right of reimbursement; and

Income from property acquired by a method listed in paragraphs (1) through (7) of this subsection if the income is not attributable to the personal effort of a spouse.

What if a Property has Both Marital and Non-Marital Characteristics?

Assets with mixed characteristics can be divided by the courts in several ways. In the case of a pension, for example, the value of the pension at the time of the marriage, along with any accumulated interest, could be considered non-marital in character. However, after the marriage contributions made toward the pension as well as any growth on that amount may be considered marital in character. This is a simplified example, and issues with characterizing, determining and allocating an asset as marital or non-marital are often much more complex.

In sum, non-marital property is (generally) any property that one spouse obtained during the marriage through gift or inheritance or owned prior to the marriage, including any income or debt that flows from that property, appreciation in the value of the non-marital property, a property exchanged for a non-marital property, or property purchased exclusively with proceeds from the sale of non-marital property. However, there are ways in which non-marital property can be converted to marital property during the marriage. 

Retaining a highly-experienced and knowledgeable Chicago based divorce attorney is important to ensure that the proper characterization and allocation of marital and non-marital assets will occur. Contact WARD FAMILY LAW, LLC, today.

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