Division of Property in Divorce: Understanding Marital Property

marital property, Illinois law, Aurora divorce lawyerDivorce can present a whole host of challenges for a couple who is unprepared for the process. Even those who have planned ahead may still experience a wide range of difficulties, as the proceedings can be stressful, confusing, and, at times, overwhelming. For many couples, negotiating an agreement regarding the allocation of marital property can be particularly tough. While a qualified family law attorney can help you reach an equitable arrangement, it is important to understand a number of considerations contained in the law regarding asset division.

Establishing the Marital Estate

A generation or two ago, the average age of individuals getting married was significantly lower. Young couples were more likely to build their entire lives together, thus the determination of marital property was pretty straightforward. Nearly everything the couple had acquired in their adult lives was subject to division in divorce. Today, couples are waiting longer to get married, and many more are entering second or third marriages, making it increasingly difficult to draw the line between marital and non-marital property.

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that the marital estate includes “all property acquired by either spouse subsequent to the marriage” except:

  • Property acquired as a gift or inheritance;
  • Property acquired after a legal separation;
  • Property excluded from the marital estate by valid agreement of the parties;
  • Proceeds from the sale or exchange of non-marital property; and
  • The increase in value of or income generated by non-marital property, not attributable to the personal effort of either spouse.

Non-marital property also includes assets owned by either spouse prior to the marriage, and any value or income derived from the sale or exchange of such assets. In certain situations, property acquired before the marriage may be considered to be marital property if it was purchased in contemplation of marriage and intended to be a joint asset.

Names on Accounts Matter Little

Marital property generally includes all of a couple’s investments, savings, and assets acquired in the course of the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the account or title. If the property or asset was purchased, established, or supported with marital funds, it is likely part of the marital estate. For example, even if you put the family home in your name alone due to your spouse’s creditworthiness issues, the mortgage payments were probably made with marital money, making the subject to equitable distribution.

The property division process in divorce can be very complex and confusing. Fortunately, an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney can help. Contact the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams today to schedule your free consultation. We will help you understand your situation, and provide the legal guidance you need to create a workable divorce agreement that protects your rights both now and in the future.

 

Sources:

http://www.census.gov/hhes/families/files/graphics/MS-2.pdf

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075000050HPt%2E+V&ActID=2086&ChapterID=59&SeqStart=6100000&SeqEnd=8350000

 

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