The old saying that “the devil is in the details” may often apply to the division of assets in a divorce if either party lacks an understanding of the difference between marital property and separate property. While you should discuss your unique situation when it comes to property division with your attorney, here is how the court will typically look at these two types of property:
Separate property includes the following:
- Property owned by you or your spouse before you married and that was kept in your/your spouse’s separate name.
- An inheritance that was received by either spouse before or during the marriage and that was kept in your/your spouse’s separate name.
- Gifts from a third party received by either spouse before or during the marriage.
- Monetary judgment received by either spouse for pain and suffering in a personal injury case.
A note about inheritances: You must not use any inherited funds to benefit marital assets — for example, using inherited money to pay your mortgage or make improvements to your home — or your inheritance may be considered comingled and subject to equitable distribution in a divorce. If any portion of the money you inherited is deposited into a joint bank account or if any of your marital funds are added to your inheritance account, those funds may be considered comingled and thus subject to equitable distribution in the event of divorce.
Marital property is typically assets that are either earned or acquired during the marriage no matter whose name those assets are in. These assets may include:
- Bank accounts
- Retirement accounts and pensions
- Brokerage accounts
- Employment income
- Real estate
- Vehicles and boats
- Art and antiques
- Life insurance
- Tax refunds
Since the distinction between marital and separate property varies by state and every divorce situation is unique, you should speak with your divorce attorney about property division in your specific case.
When you are faced with an important life decision regarding a key family relationship, the advice and assistance of an experienced family law attorney often prove crucial to your understanding of the issues involved and your satisfaction with the ultimate outcome of your family law matter. Contact us today for your free consultation.