Family Law Articles

Commingling Non-Marital and Marital Property: Reimbursement for Contributions?

Illinois property law provides for a binary classification: property is either marital or non-marital. 750 ILCS 5/503(a). Non-marital property and marital property are treated completely differently, and thus their classification is of paramount consideration. Non-marital property most commonly includes "property acquired by gift, legacy or descent" and "property acquired before the marriage". 750 ILCS 5/503(a)(1) and (a)(6). The court shall assign each spouse's non-marital property to that spouse, and marital property is to be distributed "in just proportions considering all relevant factors, including [delineated factors omitted]". 750 ILCS 5/503(d).

What then is the legal result when non-marital and marital property are commingled? For example, a party may have owned a (non-marital) bank account prior to the marriage, and may have contributed non-marital funds toward the purchase of a house (marital) during the marriage. Or perhaps a party has received a "gift" (non-marital) from a parent, and during the marriage contributed that gift toward the purchase of a house or business (marital). A spouse may have contributed significant personal efforts (marital) into a (non-marital) home, farm or building of the other spouse. All of these examples demonstrate how non-marital and marital property might be commingled.

This presents our first issue: now that one type of property has been contributed to the other type of property, how is the receiving property classified? 750 ILCS 5/503(c)(1) provides that "when marital and non-marital property are commingled by contributing one estate of property into another resulting in a loss of identity of the contributed property, the classification of the contributed property is transmuted to the estate receiving contribution, subject to the provisions of paragraph (2) of this subsection …".

UIFSA: Modifying Out of State Child Support

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) has been enacted in every state. Illinois adopted it in 1994 and incorporated amendments in 2004. Most practitioners are familiar with it to the extent that it authorizes the establishment, enforcement and modification of child support orders between two states.

As UIFSA actions involve litigants in different states, it therefore presents practitioners with jurisdictional issues. For example, if one seeks to establish, enforce or modify a child support in Illinois, how can one obtain personal jurisdiction of an out-of-state party? Perhaps one can seek "long-arm jurisdiction" over the out-of-state party pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/2-209.

The UIFSA, however, specifically provides for "bases for jurisdiction over nonresident[s]" at 750 ILCS 22/201. In fact, it provides for language similar to the long-arm statute [735 ILCS 5/2-209(b)(1)], stating that "… a State may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident individual … if: (1) the individual is personally served with notice within this State." 750 ILCS 22/201(a)(1).

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