During a divorce, the spouses’ marital property will need to be divided in a fair manner. Most of what a married couple owns belongs to both of them equally. If it was acquired during the marriage, it is probably marital property, regardless of whose income was used to purchase it. However, there are some types of property that belong to one spouse rather than the marriage.
The things that each spouse owns individually is their separate property, and it is not subject to equitable division during the divorce. One of the first steps in division of property is determining what is separate property, and what is marital property. Your attorney can help you start to identify what separate property you will be entitled to keep in your divorce.
Categories of Property Considered Separate
Understanding the categories of property that are considered to belong only to one spouse can help you get a better idea of what you should definitely be able to keep in a divorce action. Your separate property includes:
- Premarital property – If you owned it by yourself before you got married, then you will still own it by yourself after the marriage. Marrying does not mean that you are giving your spouse half-ownership of all your belongings. However, there are ways that separate property and marital property can become entangled. For example, if you enter the marriage with $20,000 in savings and use it to renovate a house your spouse owned before the marriage, then it can be a bit more complicated to determine who owns what.
- Gifts – When you give a gift, you intend for it to belong to the person you give it to – not their spouse. In keeping with this, a gift given to one spouse remains the separate property of that spouse even after the marriage ends.
- Inheritances – People most commonly inherit money or property from their own family members. When people leave property to the next generation, the last thing they want is for someone’s ex-spouse to make off with it, removing wealth from a family line. The same holds true for any inheritance you received from the estate of someone outside your family – it is meant for the person it was left to. Your inheritances are your separate property.
Spouses can also make agreements about who owns what separately by using a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. If if you have one, you will want your lawyer to read over it as well.
Call a DuPage County Divorce Attorney
Botti Marinaccio, LTD. is skilled at helping clients keep the most possible property after a divorce. Our experienced Hinsdale divorce lawyers will help you take a complete inventory of your separate and marital property. Contact us at 630-575-8585 for a free consultation.