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When a couple gets divorced in Illinois, they will have to go through property division proceedings to divide their assets and their debt. Many couples understand this and know how complicated property division can become. To avoid these complexities, many couples decide to keep their property separate even after they have married. They might use separate bank accounts, take out individual lines of credit, and take other measures to ensure their property is not combined.
The question is, will this really help in divorce and does it make property division easier?
During a divorce, any property the couple acquired during the marriage is typically considered marital property. As such, it will be divided fairly during the proceedings, although not necessarily equally.
Keeping property separate may not be enough to protect it from this property division. The best way to ensure property is kept separate is through a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. However, for couples that do not wish to draft one of these documents, there are other ways to keep property separate.
It may be possible to keep property separate so it is protected during divorce, however, there are several steps a couple must take.
Firstly, it is important to print out and store statements from all financial accounts for at least one month before the wedding. This will allow the couple to determine how much they made before the marriage and can provide proof of those earnings in case they come under scrutiny during the divorce. Of course, all earnings should be kept in separate accounts during the marriage so nothing is commingled. This will make it easier for individuals to show that those earnings were theirs and theirs alone.
Inheritances and gifts should also be kept completely separate if a couple does not wish to join their finances. For example, if one spouse receives a large inheritance during the marriage, this should not be spent on a kitchen renovation in the marital home. This would combine the finances and the marital home, even if it is only in one person’s name.
Throughout the marriage, it is also a good idea to keep a detailed list of what property is separate. Each spouse should keep a list and if the other spouse signs it, that could also help protect the property. Although these measures cannot guarantee that property will be kept separate in a divorce, for couples that want to protect their property, they can certainly help.
Although many couples believe that keeping property separate will help protect it during property division proceedings, maintaining that property as separate can become quite complicated. If you are concerned about keeping your property separate, or you are already going through a divorce and want to protect what is yours, contact our skilled Hinsdale family lawyers. At the Law Offices of Martoccio & Martoccio, we can advise on all of your legal options and steps you can take to keep your property separate. Call us today at 630-920-8855 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.