Whether you are marrying for the first time or remarrying, you may have assets that you want to remain separate property should something go wrong. This can be done through a prenuptial agreement, but those assets may still need additional protection throughout the marriage in order to safeguard them in the event of a divorce. One of the first things to do in a Illinois divorce is identifying what property makes up the marital estate.
Illinois courts look for joint accounts and property titled in both names. That is often the easy part. Even if you keep premarital property, inheritances and gifts in separate accounts or list them in your prenuptial agreement, what you do with those assets during the marriage could affect whether they ultimately end up included in the marital estate.
Obviously, if you add your spouse to the title of an asset, such as real estate, it will probably become part of the marital estate. You may have avoided this by keeping it in your own name. However, if you used marital funds to make improvements or repairs or pay the mortgage loan, it may become property divisible during a divorce.
It may also help to keep records regarding all of your separate property. If you receive an inheritance, keep a copy of the will, trust or beneficiary designation. If you receive a gift, keep any paperwork attached to it showing it was given to you alone. This may mean asking the person who gave it to you to provide you with a statement to that effect.
These are some of the ways that you can keep separate property separate in the event of a divorce. However, it requires you to take proactive measures during the marriage. If you failed to do so, that does not necessarily mean that you will end up sharing a particular asset with your future ex-spouse. Working with an experienced Illinois family law attorney may help.
Source: nerdwallet.com, “You’re Married, but Your Assets Don’t Have to Be“, Liz Weston, Accessed on March 25, 2018