Marital property vs. nonmarital property–what’s the difference? When people marry, money, debt, and property take on additional legal implications. Though distinguishing nonmarital and marital property may not be important during the union, it becomes top priority during a divorce. Division of property can lead to many heated arguments about who owns what and couples often look to an expert divorce lawyer for a free evaluation when dealing with marital property assistance.
Nonmarital vs. Marital Property
During a divorce, spouses must divide property that they previously shared. Almost all property acquired after a wedding is considered marital property and is subject to division. Property owned by either person prior to the marriage often remains property of its original owner but there are exceptions even within this area, making division of property a very complex process.
Expert divorce attorneys provide several tips for reducing the complexity involved in marital property management. Before marrying, a couple should consider a prenuptial agreement that clarifies which property is not subject to division upon divorce. In addition, accurate records should be maintained to document the separate nature of property held prior to marriage or received by one spouse through inheritance during the marriage.
If one spouse is concerned about keeping certain property after a divorce, steps should be taken to maintain the separation of these personal assets throughout the marriage. This means that the property should not be commingled with property acquired by the couple during the marriage. Only nonmarital assets should be used to purchase property that the purchasing spouse wants to be considered nonmarital property. For example, a boat purchased during a marriage will be more likely to be considered nonmarital property if it is purchased with money that the buyer had before getting married and maintained in a separate bank account.
Nonmarital funds should never be used to repay marital debts. They also should not be used to open joint bank accounts even if the nonmarital portion will be tracked separately. On the other hand, income earned during a marriage should not be deposited into a nonmarital account or the account may lose its status as separate property.
One of the biggest mistakes that couples make is to assume that property owned by one person prior to marriage will be excluded from marital property. Divorce and property division contain a lot of fine print and merely making joint improvements to a home that one spouse owned prior to a marriage can entitle the other spouse to some compensation. A knowledgeable divorce lawyer for marital property helps clients maintain the desired division between marital and nonmarital property. There are many nuances involved in deciding the difference between marital property and nonmarital property, which is part of the reason why most divorce lawyers offer free consultations, to help you understand the facts and the myths.