Hartley Law Office, LLC

Hartley Law Office, LLC

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Separate property vs. marital property

Property division may be one of the most complicated parts of the divorce process. Distributing property that a couple has accumulated during the course of a marriage can be emotional and may cause problems when people do not fully understand the differences between marital and separate property. Whether a couple is negotiating the terms of their property division through mediation or has placed the responsibility in the hands of a court-appointed judge, it is crucial to know what types of property and assets are marital as opposed to separate.

Marital property is eligible for division in a divorce. While people may think of jointly owned homes, vehicles, furniture and bank accounts, there are other less common types of marital property. These include the following:

  •          Expensive collections, such as antiques, classic cars, coins, art or horses.
  •          Country club and golf course memberships.
  •          Gifts given to one another during the marriage.
  •          Life insurance plans, 401K plans and stock options.
  •          Lottery ticket winnings.
  •          Intellectual property, such as royalties, trademarks, copyrights and patents.

Not all property can be divided in a settlement. Any gifts given to either spouse by a third-party before, during or after the marriage are considered separate property and may stay with the original owner. Inheritance money or compensation received from a personal injury case may be separate was well. In addition, property that was owned by either spouse prior to the marriage could be separate if the title of the property remained solely in the owner’s name throughout the marriage. Owners who amend the title and add their spouses’ name run the risk of losing their exclusivity to the property. 

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