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What's separate property in my divorce?

If you're getting a divorce, it's time to start getting your finances in order. If you don't know what's going on with your and your spouse's financial accounts and retirement savings, you better learn and gather all the information now, so your assets and debts are accounted for. This will assist you or the court to divide your marital assets in a legally appropriate manner.

It's important to keep in mind when surveying your property rights that some of the property that belongs to you or your spouse may be categorized as "separate property." In other words, this property will include:

  • Property that was owned before marriage.
  • Inheritances given to either spouse before or during the marriage.
  • Gifts received by individual spouses from third parties.
  • Payments received for personal injury judgments, especially those for pain and suffering injuries.

It's important to note that other categories of property could be considered individual or separate property in your divorce. Also, if you commingle any separate property into a joint account, or add your spouse's name to a deed on a piece of property, then that property will probably lose its separate property status and it could be divisible during your divorce proceedings.

When spouses can fully understand their marital property rights going into a divorce, they will have a better chance of reaching a peaceful property settlement. They will also have a better chance of accounting for all their assets to ensure they're treated fairly in their property division proceedings. This, in turn, can improve post-marital relations as they transform from being spouses to being individuals again.

Source: Forbes, "Understanding how assets get divided in a divorce," Jeff Landers, accessed Dec. 01, 2017

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