Marital and Non-Marital Property in Illinois: Understanding the Differences and Why Sometimes, its Both

February 10, 2023

During an Illinois divorce, one of the key things is how to divide your marital property. This can be confusing, so here’s a basic breakdown. This post is not legal advice — if you need legal advice, you should hire a lawyer.

What is Marital Property?


  • Basically, any asset acquired during your marriage is considered marital, regardless of whose name is on it.
  • This includes: homes, cars, bank accounts, retirement plans, even debts.
  • Gifts and inheritances are usually NOT marital property.
  • Collectively, this is called the martial estate

How is the Marital Estate Divided?


  • Illinois uses “equitable distribution,” meaning the judge divides things fairly, but not always 50/50.
  • Factors like each spouse’s contributions, earning potential, and future needs are all considered.

What About Non-Marital Property?


  • Property you owned before marriage or received as a gift or inheritance is usually yours to keep.
  • BUT BE CAREFUL: If you mix non-marital property with your spouse, like using an inheritance to improve your jointly owned home, things get complicated.

Why It Can Get Tricky

Figuring out if something is marital or non-marital is often the hardest part for many people. Sometimes one spouse feels the other wasted money during the marriage or they deserve a bigger piece because they worked hard. Other times, people have a hard time understanding that nearly everything is probably marital property. This applies even if you have lived separately for years. As an attorney with nearly 2 decades of experience, I can help you with your property division.

The Importance of a Lawyer

Dividing property in divorce is complex! An experienced Illinois family law attorney will:

  • Help you identify what’s marital vs. non-marital.
  • Draft legally-sound agreements protecting your rights.

Don’t navigate property division alone! Visit my website,, to learn more about how I can help you with your Illinois divorce.

If you and your soon-to-be-ex can work through a fair division of your stuff, call my office to see if I can help you with the paperwork for your divorce. You can also contact me through my website, which will be sent directly to me, or you can chat with LawCat.


Disclaimer: The information contained herein is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading this blog post. Please consult with an attorney to discuss your individual legal needs.