Perhaps no issue is the source of greater confusion among divorce lawyers than the issue of commingled property and contribution claims. That confusion is compounded by the fact that in practice, judges have differing opinions on when a contribution claim is appropriate and when it isn’t. Thus, outcomes vary greatly from one judge to another.
It may be helpful to start by defining what a contribution claim is not. It is not an assertion that an asset is the non-marital property of one spouse or the other. Rather, a contribution claim begins with the undisputed common understanding that marital property and non-marital property have been commingled together, and we need to figure out who is entitled to what.
Marital and non-marital property are defined by statute under 750 ILCS 5/503(a). A contribution claim is essentially a claim for reimbursement. The statute sets forth the rules as follows: