Changes in Illinois Law concerning property purchased before the marriage

Effective January 1, 2016, Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act has undergone many significant changes. While statutes concerning parenting issues have received much attention in the press, laws on property distribution have also been revamped.

Most notably, the theory of “property acquired in contemplation of marriage” has been wholly eliminated from Section 503 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.
Previously, there have been many cases on this issue, all of which now have been nullified by the amendment.

In fact, Section 503(a) now explicitly states as follows, “Property acquired prior to a marriage that would otherwise be non-marital shall not be deemed to be marital property solely because the property was acquired in contemplation of marriage. “

Effectively, the general rule is that if you and your spouse purchased a home after your engagement, but prior to the marriage (and the title to this home was and remains in your spouse’s name alone), this property will not be deemed marital.