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What is the difference between marital and separate properties?

On Behalf of | Jun 13, 2024 | Divorce |

During a divorce, you and your former spouse will decide on how you want to divide your marital properties. If you cannot agree, a court will intervene and determine which assets are separate and marital properties.

Marital possessions are the property and cash you obtain during the marriage. Meanwhile, separate property includes cash savings, land or investments you already owned before the wedding. We outline examples in this blog to help you understand the difference between the two concepts.

Examples of marital property

A court considers almost anything you purchased or received during your marriage as marital property. For example, it can be real estate you and your former spouse bought and other personal purchases, including the following:

  • Furniture
  • Cars, boats or private planes
  • Artwork

Gifts you gave each other are also considered marital assets. If you bought a car for your former spouse, the judge would distribute the vehicle’s value during the property division process.

The judge will also distribute cash in bank and retirement accounts you opened during the marriage. However, the judge may not consider it a marital asset if you paid for a property during the marriage using separate property funds.

Examples of separate property

Separate assets are those you owned even before you got married. These may include real estate and other personal property you bought when you were single.

The item is a separate property if you inherited it from a relative or got it as a gift from someone other than your spouse during the marriage. Additionally, the court will not distribute an asset you acquired in exchange for a separate property, even if the exchange occurred when you were married.

The financial compensation you received for sustaining personal injuries during the marriage is also personal property. However, if the compensation was for the loss of wages or earning capacity, a judge may include these funds during the division of assets.

Anything indicated as separate property in a written agreement between you and your former spouse is also an example of separate property.

You can take legal action if you disagree with how the court divides marital assets. An experienced lawyer can present you with your legal options during the proceedings.