Usually during an initial divorce consultation I will ask about assets and liabilities, and marital and non-marital property. The response I usually get is, “we don’t have any marital property because only my name is on it.” Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
What is Non Marital Property?
Illinois law defines non-marital property as:
- Property acquired by gift, legacy or descent;
- Property acquired in exchange for property acquired before the marriage or in exchange for property acquired by gift, legacy or descent;
- Property acquired by a spouse after a judgment of legal separation;
- Property excluded by valid agreement of the parties;
- Any judgment or property obtained by judgment awarded to a spouse from the other spouse;
- Property acquired before the marriage;
- The increase in value of property acquired by a method listed above;
- Income from the property acquired by a method listed above, if the income is not attributable to the personal effort of a spouse.
The list above seems simple enough, right? However, many divorcing couples are shocked to find that everything they thought they knew about non marital property was wrong. Under certain circumstances, non-marital property can become marital property by transmutation. Transmutation occurs most often by gift or by comingling. Comingling occurs when a martial asset is mixed with a non-marital assets, for example, you receive a sum of money from a deceased relative and you put that money in a joint account to be used by both of you. The funds have been comingled, and the entire account is now a marital asset. Similarly, you owned a home before marriage, but you refinance and put your spouse on the deed. The property may now be marital.
Is My Property Marital or Non-Marital?
Sorting out property in a divorce can be complicated even when you think it’s simple. An experienced divorce professional can help you navigate your legal rights. If you are ready to get started exploring your options, you can call me now at 708-466-6912 or contact me online. I often meet clients in the evening and on weekends, and all clients get my personal mobile phone number.