together. The mortg. was and has always been in her name alone. My wife filed for divorce. Would I be able to recover half of the payments/value I made given that these are being used to pay down the mortgage and she is gaining equity as a result of my contributions? My brother just finished a divorce in California and that is a community property state, so he was able to secure half of the communitie's assets. Not sure how it works in Chicago, especially given that she owns the property, but I am helping her benefit with equity payments. Thanks. (I am adding family law, divorce to categorize)
In Illinois, if the home was purchased during the marriage, it is presumed to be marital property subject to an equitable division by the court. Equitable does NOT mean 50/50. So anything can happen (and often does) once the judge looks at the marital estate. Talk to a family law attorney in your area for specific guidance.
DO NOT look to California for guidance in an Illinois divorce. Illinois is not a community property state and our laws are very different. That being said, you did not mention if your wife purchased the condo before you were married although it appears that may be the case. You can ask for half of your payments back, but the opposing argument would be that that was your cost of living and to return all that to you would be a windfall. On the other hand, a good lawyer should be able to negotiate a settlement for you. Do not try to do this on your own. There are a number of ways to divide marital property and for best results, you should have your own, experienced counsel.
Since it appears the property was purchased by your wife prior to the marriage and never transferred into joint ownership, and absent some other fact, the property would likely remain her premarital property. You MAY be entitled to reimbursement. Depending on how long she has been paying on the residence you would need to know how much of each payment goes towards interest and what gets paid towards principal (early in a loan, payments are commonly heavy on the interest). Also, in a decliniing real estate market, no equity may have been paid down even with each principal payment. Unless we're talking a Gold Coast condo with appreciating value and a lot of principal payment being made over the last year and half, this may not be something worth spending a lot of money on legal fees fighting over. You'll need moe infoamtion and a consult with a Cook County lawyer to figure that out.
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