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What Is & What Is Not Marital Property

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Divorces can often compel couples to take a more in-depth look at their financial situations than they might otherwise do. If you and your soon-to-be ex have very little marital property, you might be able to get away with a quick agreement between the two of you before you visit a divorce lawyer. The more property you have, however, the more complex your marital property settlement agreement could be.

During meetings with your lawyer, you might hear the term "marital property" come up from time to time. It's best for the sake of your financial interests that you avoid making assumptions about what this term really means. Read on to find out what marital property really is for the purposes of your upcoming divorce.

What Is Not Considered Marital Property Through Prior Ownership

Not every single thing you and your spouse own fits into this category. Those who have been living as a single person in their own place often manage to accumulate quite a lot of furnishings and usually a vehicle as well. When it comes to what is marital property, however, only things that you buy after you are married applies to the marital property category. The day you married should be viewed as a wall behind which your previous belongings are safe and belong only to you. For example, if you owned a car and still own that car, that car is not marital property, it's considered separate property.

What Is Not Considered Marital Property Through Gifts and Inheritances

Another category of belongings that are considered separate property is that which you inherited—even if you were already married and regardless of where you live. Additionally, any gifts you received from anyone other than your spouse are considered separate property. If a gift was given to you both, it's considered marital property and must be divided in the divorce agreement.

What Is Considered Marital Property?

By default then, anything you and your spouse acquired during the term of your marriage is marital property unless it was a gift or inheritance. In nearly every instance, the person who actually purchased the item or who was thought to own it is irrelevant for the purposes of dividing assets using marital property rules. You may treasure your collection of rare books, but they are considered marital property.

It must be mentioned here that just because something is considered marital property doesn't necessarily mean you are in jeopardy of losing it. For example, pets acquired during the marriage are usually considered marital property but if you both want the pet the judge is going to make their decision based on who cared for it the most. It's vital that you identify what is and what is not marital property so that you know what you can expect to be awarded once the divorce is finalized. Contact a divorce lawyer to learn more.