Short-Term Marriages and Divorce
There are those certain divorce cases where a couple has only been married for a very short while, usually less than one year, and are now seeking a divorce. How does a couple like this divide their marital property? Under Illinois law, martial property is defined as all property acquired by either spouse after the marriage, except for the following which is considered to be non-marital property: (1) property acquired by gift or inheritance; (2) property acquired in exchange for property acquired before the marriage; (3) property acquired by a spouse after a judgment of legal separation; (4) property excluded by valid agreement of the parties; (5) property obtained by judgment awarded to a spouse from the other spouse; or (6) property acquired before the marriage. In short term marriages, generally there is no entitlement to maintenance (formerly known as alimony in Illinois), unless agreed to by the parties by way of a prenuptial agreement, or some other agreement dictating a right to maintenance after a dissolution of a couple's marriage. Typically, the parties will retain ownership of the property he or she brought into the marriage. Wedding gifts, however, are considered to be marital property which will be divided in a divorce. Generally, the husband will retain the smaller gifts given to home by his family and friends while the wife keeps the gifts given to her by her family and friends. Cash gifts, or other gifts of significant value, are usually divided evenly to the parties. Similarly, any debt and costs incurred as a result of the wedding celebration, planning, and honeymoon will typically be apportioned evenly among the parties in the divorce proceeding.