Maintaining separate property during marriage can be complex

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Property Division on Friday, January 26, 2018.

For Illinois couples going through a divorce, property division can be complicated. However, thinking about property ownership can be just as important for people starting a marriage, even if it is unpleasant to consider ending a marriage before it begins.

A prenuptial agreement can address questions of marital property and delineate exactly which property is subject to division after a divorce or even death. In addition to a prenuptial agreement, however, maintaining accurate and precise records to establish the independent nature of some property can also be important. This includes property that belongs to one party before marriage or assets that came through a gift or inheritance during the marriage.

If one spouse wants to retain separate property that is legally recognized as such, keeping it separate is also critical. This means not commingling the property such as by depositing inheritance money in a joint account or adding a spouse to the title of a separately-owned premarital property.

When separate property increases in value, that increase may be considered part of the marital estate even when the underlying asset is not. This is especially true if active steps are taken, like remodeling or managed investing, to further enhance the asset’s value. The same is true of businesses, where a spouse’s contribution to the project can help to boost its value.

In Illinois, marital property is distributed according to a principle of equitable distribution, in which a court will seek to derive a fair settlement of property rather than a direct 50 percent split. People who are working to protect their property during divorce can work with a family law attorney who can represent a spouse’s interests during property division and work to secure a just settlement.

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