Property division casts the fate of marital and separate assets

If you are facing the property division phase of your divorce, you may think you know which assets are marital and which separate.

However, the lines are sometimes blurred and the effort to sort items correctly may lead to a few surprises.

Separate versus marital property

Separate property is anything you owned prior to your marriage. Examples are your diamond engagement ring, your vintage Chevy and the Florida beach house you inherited from your late father. Marital property, on the other hand, is anything owned by you and your spouse together, such as your primary residence, your joint checking account and the motorboat you keep in Florida.

Commingled property

If you owned the beach house free and clear prior to your marriage, the court would likely see that as separate property and you will be able to keep it. However, the funds you once took from your separate account and placed in a joint account is another matter. You may claim that the money was your non-marital property, but your spouse may have an issue with this view if you cannot trace the funds to the original deposit you made many years ago.

Assets to list

Assets such as a retirement account you thought were your separate property may fall into the marital column based on the length of your marriage. Other assets to question might include gifts you and your spouse gave one another during your marriage, your club membership and even your wine collection. Prepare for property division by making lists of marital and separate assets. Your divorce attorney will need this and can help you sort the assets you have questions about.

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