The difference between separate and marital property

When couples go through divorce, it is important to understand the difference between separate and marital property.

When couples file for divorce in Massachusetts, each party is required to disclose all information regarding their property and assets. The state follows an equitable division of property model, meaning that the judge presiding over the case will determine who is entitled to what after careful consideration of pertinent factors. It is crucial for people to know, however, what marital and separate property is so that they can get everything they are entitled to in the divorce settlement.

What is marital property?

Marital property consists of more than just the family home, vehicle and furniture. Marital property consists of everything the couple attained during the course of the marriage. This includes lesser known items and assets, such as the following:

· Expensive collections, including art, cars, coins, horses and antiques.

· Gifts given to one another during the marriage.

· Country club and golf course memberships.

· Travel points rewards and lottery ticket winnings.

· Intellectual property, including royalties, patents, copyrights and trademarks.

· Tax refunds and term life insurance policies.

In addition to these items, people are entitled to any 401k plans, pensions, stocks, retirement or capital loss carryover that was earned during the time the couple was married.

Defining separate property

Contrary to what some may think, not all property is eligible for division during a divorce. There are some assets and items that may stay with the original owner even after the marriage has been terminated. This may include property that was owned by either party prior to the marriage. In order to be considered separate, however, the title of the property must remain solely in the owner's name. Furthermore, any inheritance that either party was given before, during or after the marriage may stay with the original owner as well. The money must stay separate from the couples' joint bank account in order to remain with the original owner.

If the title of the property is updated to include the spouse's name or the money is deposited into a joint bank account, the property and/or money may become marital. If this should occur, it may be divided in the marriage settlement.

Getting answers to your questions

Going through a divorce is often a very emotional time in people's lives. They may be forced to make crucial decisions while learning to deal with the pain of change and loss. An attorney in Massachusetts may be helpful by answering your questions and pointing you in the right direction.