What is the difference between marital and separate property?

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2021 | Family Law |

Dividing marital property may be one of the most difficult topics to tackle in a divorce. While some couples may come to a mutual agreement regarding the division of their property, others need the assistance of the court to determine who is entitled to what.

It is important to understand the difference between marital and separate property so you can receive everything you are entitled to in the divorce settlement.

What does marital property involve?

Items and assets you and your spouse accumulated during the marriage is considered marital property, according to Financial Times. The court may divide marital property according to what they believe is fair and will best benefit everyone involved. Yet, marital property includes more than the family home, furniture and belongings. It also includes the following:

  • Expensive collections, such as art, wine, antiques, classic cars and coins
  • Loyalty and rewards points, such as frequent flier miles
  • Intellectual property, such as patents, trademarks and copyrights
  • Contents of 401k plans, retirement plans, stocks, money market accounts and term life insurance policies
  • Lottery ticket winnings and income tax returns
  • Memberships to exclusive golf and country clubs

Marital property includes any gifts exchanged between you and your spouse during the marriage as well.

How is separate property different?

While marital property is eligible for division in the settlement, separate property may stay in the hands of the original owner. This includes property that you owned prior to the marriage, inheritance money you received and gifts given to you by a third party before, during and after your marriage. It is critical, however, that this property stays solely in your name. If it is placed in a joint bank account with your spouse or your spouse’s name is put on the title of the property, it loses its separate status and can then be divided.