Husband and Wife had been married for seven years, when they each filed for divorce. The parties’ primary dispute was whether Wife was entitled to a greater share of the marital property and to maintenance. Just before the case was going to be on trial, Wife wanted to amend her Petition. She also wanted to include the 13 years of living with Husband before the marriage.  The Court said ‘no’ to this. The couple was divorced.  The Court made a decision about property and maintenance for the time that the parties were actually married.

Wife had wanted to include 13 years before they were married because she wanted a share of the assets that Husband had acquired before the marriage. He owned a number of MacDonald’s franchises and other properties. The court did not consider the value of the assets from anytime prior to the date of the marriage.  Wife believed that but for her “dutiful service,” Husband would not have accumulated “the substantial wealth that he has today.” She asked to postpone the trial. Also, she asked to reopen discovery into Husband’s assets as far back as the start of the couple’s relationship in 1999.

The Court said that Husband and Wife had the option to marry at any point during the 13 years before their wedding in 2012. They chose not to do so, for whatever reason. The Court restated the law in Illinois that there is no such thing as a common law marriage.  The Court will not make decisions on property for a time prior to the marriage. That property falls into the category known as non-marital property.  That is, unless the parties held property jointly.

In Re The Marriage of Allen, Fourth Division, 13-D-06148.