Ending a marriage is a challenging and draining process. Apart from the emotional aspects, you must also address legal and financial matters, such as the division of property.
Understanding the concept of separate property is crucial when it comes to protecting your interests. But how can you establish equitable divorce terms?
Does this factor into the property division process?
Marital property typically includes assets and debts acquired by both spouses throughout the marriage. Separate property, on the other hand, may refer to:
- Assets you acquired before you got married. Property you owned individually before marriage is separate property. This could include real estate, vehicles, investments or personal belongings. Depending on your situation, a prenuptial agreement may also outline specific assets or debts to remain separate in the event of a divorce.
- Compensation for personal injuries. Typically, settlement money from a car accident or medical malpractice claim would not factor into property division disputes. Be aware, however, of any funds meant to cover lost wages since they may complicate negotiations.
- Assets you received during your marriage. An inheritance is generally considered separate property. The same goes for gifts given to one spouse individually rather than to you as a couple. Combining these assets with marital accounts may subject them to division.
Note that your spouse must provide evidence if they insist upon an equitable share of your property. Documents like deeds, bank statements or legal agreements may be necessary to substantiate their claims.
Three court considerations
If you and your former partner can’t agree on property division terms, a court will make a decision based on various factors, which include each spouse’s:
- Financial circumstances
- Contributions to the marriage
- Marital conduct
Child custody arrangements may also influence orders.
Knowing your rights is essential for navigating the complexities of parting ways. Identifying what’s yours can help you protect your interests as you navigate the legal framework of marital dissolution.