In Illinois, courts are required to divide up a couple's marital property in the event of a divorce or separation. Basically, marital property is just about any asset, or debt, that either party either owns or owes.
This is so without regard to who purchased the asset, who legally owns it or who spent most of the time and energy caring for and maintaining it.
However, Illinois law recognizes some property as non-marital property. Although the law lists a number of types of non-marital property, there are a couple of types that may be more likely to apply to the situations of Peoria couples.
For instance, property that one spouse receives as a gift or as part of inheritance is non-marital property. By way of example, this means that a woman who received $20,000 a year from her parents for her own needs could in theory claim that property outright in the event of a divorce; she will not have to submit those funds to property division.
Likewise, many assets which either spouse earned or received before his marriage will be treated as non-marital property. So, if a man owns a successful business prior to his marriage, he may be able to keep the value of his business.
Sorting out what is marital property can be complicated. Moreover, the stakes are high when there is a controversy about whether an asset is marital property, as the outcome could mean the difference between keeping the entire value of the asset or losing, say, about half of it. In such circumstances, it may be best to seek out the advice of an experienced Illinois family law attorney.