Feb 7, 2022

Marital Property vs. Nonmarital Property in Illinois

Many couples eschew separate bank accounts and combine funds when married life begins. Therefore, they often make big purchases such as houses or vehicles with both parties’ names on the title. No couple plans for divorce, but separation can complicate matters of ownership, especially when documents state that each spouse co-owns an asset. Read on to learn the difference between marital and nonmarital property in Illinois.

What Is Marital Property?

In simplest terms, marital property refers to anything purchased or acquired during the marriage. Most of the time, the way a property is titled does not change the fact that it’s marital property. In Illinois, all marital property can be divided in a divorce, with the goal of equitable distribution.


As long as it was purchased during the marriage, any asset can be considered marital property, including:

  • Cars
  • Real estate properties
  • Furniture and other household appliances
  • Investment accounts
  • Retirement plans
  • Pensions
  • Insurance policies
  • Stocks

What is Nonmarital Property?

Nonmarital property refers to assets that one spouse solely owns. This does not need to be distributed equally in a divorce; it will remain with whoever owned it before the separation.


The rules for nonmarital property are less clear cut than those for marital property. Here are some ways you can determine whether an individual owns an asset:

  • If the individual purchased the asset before the marriage and it’s in their name only
  • If the asset was left to or given as a gift to the individual
  • If the individual acquired the asset after legal separation
  • If the asset is listed on a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement
  • If the asset was awarded by a judgment

As you can see, determining who owns what can be tricky sometimes. That’s why it’s helpful to bring in a property division lawyer to clarify things and ensure the divorce is processed fairly. Now that you know the difference between marital property and nonmarital property in Illinois, prepare for your separation with this information in mind.

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