One of the biggest concerns during a divorce is how you divide your property with your spouse. Much of what you own will be marital property that you have to split with your spouse. You either negotiate a settlement with them or go to court for the equitable distribution of your marital property.
However, some of your belongings and accounts may be the separate property of one spouse. Your separate property is exempt from division in the divorce unless you commingled it with marital assets. Which of your assets might be separate property when you file for divorce?
Assets owned before marriage
It isn’t the name on the account or title that matters. It’s usually when you acquired the property that’s most important. The property you owned before you got married remains your separate property in most cases.
Exceptions to this rule include if you own a home outright and then live there with your spouse. Their contributions to its maintenance and regular expenses might mean that they have at least a partial interest in it.
Inherited property and gifts
When you inherit something left to you specifically, it is your separate property unless you commingle it or give your spouse control over or access to the asset. The same is true of gifts that you received even during the marriage.
Trying to prove what is truly separate and what you must share requires a review of your financial documents from during the marriage. The more records you have, the easier it will be for you to protect specific property as your separate assets. Learning about the rules that apply to property division in divorces can help those thinking about filing to get prepared.