Marital Property: Don't Neglect This Divorce Issue

Posted on: 11 February 2020


It's easy to overlook things when dealing with divorce. In most cases, divorcing couples with children pay far more attention to issues like child custody than they do others. That is only natural, and it's vital to prioritize anything to do with minor children. Be sure, however, that you don't forget about other important issues like marital property. For some tips on dealing with marital assets, read on.

What Is Not Marital Property?

Divorcing parties need to understand what is meant by the term marital asset or property. Not everything in your possession falls into that category. Take a look at this list of items that do not belong in the marital property bucket:

  • Anything already owned by either party prior to the date of the marriage.
  • Anything inherited or given as a gift to either party during the marriage (as long as the asset has not been mixed up with a marital asset).
  • Any life insurance disbursements

What Us Marital Property?

The laws of your state of residence will have a hand in dictating how the remainder of your property is divided. Almost anything you and your spouse bought during the marriage is considered marital property. Depending on whether you live in a community property state or an equitable distribution state, it might not matter who bought the item or the name on the property.

Know Your Assets

Regardless of its designation, it's a must to make a list of all assets. Even if you are not sure whether the item belongs to you or your spouse, make a list of all items of value (including sentimental value). Don't forget to include family pets – they are usually considered marital property. By the way, when thinking about assets, don't just focus on cars and real estate. Bank, saving, investment, and retirement accounts should be listed as well. If one or both of you own a business – list that as an asset.

Frequently Overlooked Marital Property

Keep in mind that just because you don't want an item in the divorce doesn't mean you shouldn't list it on the inventory. At some point, you may need to use that item to trade for something else you do want. All assets have value in a divorce. Don't overlook the following:

  • Live animals, including farm stock and pets
  • Expected tax refunds
  • Loans due. For example, you may have a right to funds from a personal loan proffered by your spouse.

Speak to your divorce lawyer for more tips on identifying marital property.