How Does Illinois Divorce Law Treat Gifts to Spouses?
Chances are you and your spouse engaged in the tradition of gift giving between yourselves and with other members of the family. Whether for birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, or other special occasions, presents are a way of showing love, appreciation, and gratitude. Now that you are considering divorce, what happens to these mementos that—in some cases—might be worth a lot of money?
You might already be aware of how Illinois divorce law treats marital and non-marital assets for purposes of property distribution. However, the treatment of gifts is not so clear-cut. An attorney with experience in property division matters can tell you more about specific items, but here are some general rules on how the law applies.
Legal Presumption as Non-Marital Property
The general rule is that, when one spouse receives a gift, the item is presumed to be non-marital. For example, a present you receive from a person outside the marriage for a birthday, retirement, or as a thank you would be yours to keep if you divorce. In addition, a gift from a child for Mother’s or Father’s Day is clearly for one person—not the couple. These types of gifts will not be considered by a court when making a property distribution of marital property.
It is possible to overcome the legal presumption by presenting clear and convincing evidence that the gift was intended for you and your spouse as a couple. The determination of whether the item was intended for both of you may be challenged where the tag on a holiday gift mentions each of your names. If the gift is clearly to you as a couple, it would be marital property and subject to property division in a divorce case—unless you and your spouse agree.
Specific Types of Gifts
Illinois law does provide guidance on the treatment of gifts in certain situations.
- Gifts Between Spouses: When your spouse gives you a present, that would be seen as a gift to you individually. It would most likely be considered non-marital property.
- Wedding and Engagement Rings: These rings are a token of your relationship as a couple, but are still treated as gifts between spouses.
- Wedding Gifts: When guests give gifts in honor of your nuptials, these are intended for you as a couple. They would be subject to property division under Illinois divorce law.
A Qualified Property Division Lawyer Can Assist
The legal presumption that gifts are non-marital property may be easy to apply in some cases, but other situations can be more complex. Plus, there are other legal concepts that may treat certain types of presents in different ways, further clouding the issue. A skilled DuPage County property division attorney can assist you in understanding how Illinois divorce law works, but it is also useful to retain a lawyer with the negotiation skills necessary to move beyond specific gifts and toward resolution. If you’d like to hear more about our legal services for divorcing couples, please contact Davi Law Group, LLC.