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What is Mine Is Ours": The Truth Behind Marital Property

In a study recently discussed in The Chicago Tribune, researchers determined that there has been a shift in the number of women in the last decade who are staying at home to raise their children. In 2012, 29 percent of American mothers – roughly 10.4 million - stayed at home with their children. This marks a shift from the last three decades, which demonstrated working mothers on the rise. The reason for the increase of mothers staying at home has been largely related to the downturn in the U.S. economy, as well as due to rising immigration. In 2012, 634,000 mothers, or six percent, of these stay-at-home moms attributed their decision to an inability to find a job; in 2000, only one percent of these stay-at-home moms were home because of the job market.

The study also attempted to understand the demographics of the women who were staying at home. The most common demographic found in the study consisted of younger moms with less education, and those who were more likely to come from poorer backgrounds. With regards to education, only 21 percent of mothers who were college-educated stayed at home, while 35 percent of high school graduates and 51 percent of women who did not finish their high school education were more likely to be at home. Only five percent of women with a master's degree or higher, and whose salary started at $75,000, stayed home.

The study also found that Hispanic, Asian, and immigrant mothers were more likely than other women with children to stay home, rather than go to work. This in part due to economic factors, although the study also cited cultural norms and personal preferences as playing a determinative role in the decision of the mother.

Property Division Upon Divorce

In Illinois, many mothers who are deciding whether to stay at home or continue to work may worry about the choice that they make and potential implications that they may have if a divorce may occur. There is a fear that “what is mine is ours” does not always end up being the case, and many women may be fearful that giving up a career may leave them vulnerable later down the road.

According to Illinois's Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, “marital property” is defined as ALLproperty that either spouse has acquired after the beginning of the marriage.

“Non-marital property” is determined as:

  1. Property acquired by gift, legacy, or descent;
  2. Property acquired in exchange for property acquired before the marriage, or exchanged for property that was acquired by gift, legacy or descent;
  3. Property acquired after a judgment for legal separation;
  4. Property that may have been excluded by agreement;
  5. Property that has already been awarded to one spouse by judgment; or
  6. Property acquired before the marriage.

All property that is not within the defined limitations should be considered marital property, regardless of the names on the title. This should alleviate the worries of any stay-at-home mom who may be concerned that property not specifically in her name, nor acquired by the fruits of her labor, will be apportioned to the breadwinning spouse. Her contribution as a stay-at-home mom is reviewed in light of the other factors, and the Court will advocate for an equitable and just apportionment of the marital property.

Contact a Naperville Family Law Attorney

If you are a stay-at-home mother and you are considering a divorce from your spouse, feel free to contact one of our experienced Naperville attorneys for more information on the divorce, or any questions you may have about property division during a divorce.

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