What Is Commingled Property an Illinois Divorce?
If you are considering divorce in DuPage County, it is important to understand how property division works under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), and to understand how property can become commingled. When property is commingled, it can be difficult to classify, and the court ultimately may need to classify it as marital property that is divisible even if it has some traces of separate or non-marital property. We will say more about property division in order to explain the complications of commingled property. If you have questions, a DuPage County divorce attorney can assist you.
Classifying Marital and Non-Marital (or Separate) Property
The first step in dividing marital property in a DuPage County divorce is for the court to classify all property as marital or nonmarital (or separate) property. Generally speaking, all property acquired prior to the date of the marriage will be classified as separate property and will not be subject to division, while most property acquired after the date of marriage will be classified as marital property and will be subject to division. However, there are some exceptions to the classification of marital property. For example, even though the following types of property may have been acquired after the date of marriage, the court likely will classify these types of property as separate property and will not divide them:
- Inheritances to only one of the spouses
- Gifts made to only one of the spouses
- Property acquired through the use of separate property
- Property specifically designated as separate property in a premarital agreement
Property Division in Illinois and the Theory of Equitable Distribution
When two married people in Illinois get divorced, the court will divide all marital property according to a theory of equitable distribution. This might include, for example:
- Bank accounts shared by the parties or even separate bank accounts opened after the date of the marriage
- Income earned by either party during the marriage
- Art and other collectibles acquired by the parties after the date of marriage
- Real estate acquired by the parties after the date of marriage
- Automobiles purchased by the parties after they got married
- Retirement accounts opened or added to during the marriage
All of these types of property, along with many others, will be divided in a way that is fair — or equitable — to both of the parties.
Complications of Commingled Property
The equitable distribution of marital property might seem relatively straightforward, but it can get extremely complicated when property has become commingled.
What is commingled property? In short, this term refers to property that cannot clearly be classified as marital or non-marital property, and thus the court does not have a straightforward path to determining whether or not the property should be divided in a divorce. In most cases, property becomes commingled when one of the spouses contributes separate property to a marital acquisition or purchase, or when one of the spouses mixes separate property with marital property in another manner. Examples of commingled property might include, for instance:
- Spouse A uses money earned prior to the marriage to make renovations to a marital home or another piece of real estate owned by the spouses, and the property later increases or decreases significantly in value;
- Spouse B adds Spouse A to a checking account that contains his earnings from prior to the marriage, and both parties begin to deposit money into the account and to withdraw funds after the date of the marriage; or
- Spouse A uses an inheritance to fund the purchase of a piece of art or another collectible for the marital home.
As you can see, commingled property can make property classification and division very complicated.
Contact an Illinois Divorce Attorney
If you need assistance with property division in your divorce or have questions about commingled property, an experienced DuPage County divorce lawyer can help. Contact Farooqi & Husain Law Office online or call our office at 630-909-9114.