When an Illinois married couple is happy and times are good, they often share everything, including assets. You might live by the "what mine is yours and what is yours is mine" philosophy under those conditions, but doing so could jeopardize the division of your assets during a divorce. Your separate assets could end up being considered marital assets if you divorce, depending on how you treat them during your marriage.
Your spouse could claim a portion of an asset that you thought was your separate property if its value increased during the marriage. For example, if you inherited property during the marriage and you and your spouse spent marital funds fixing it up, and its value increased, your spouse could be entitled to a portion of the increase. How you hold property that you believe is yours alone also makes a difference.
If you "commingle" funds, which means the funds were mixed with marital funds, you could lose your right to exclusivity. This is why having an Illinois family law attorney represent you in a divorce is essential. He or she should be able to help you classify your property as either marital or nonmarital. Whether you negotiate a divorce settlement or end up in court, the appropriate evidence could help you keep all -- or at least most -- of your separate property.
If you failed to keep the property you came into the marriage with separate, all might not be lost. A case could be made to the court that at least a portion of the property belongs to you alone. If you decide to resolve your marital issues outside of court, it might be possible to make an agreement with your soon-to-be former spouse that would allow you to retain a particular asset after the divorce.