When you get divorced, marital property is divided. However, it's important to remember that not everything you own counts as marital property. Some of it may count as separate property that only belongs to you or your spouse and therefore does not have to be divided.
Four examples of this include:
- An inheritance given only to one person. If your parents left you $200,000, only in your name, it's safe to say they want it to stay in the family.
- Assets you owned before you tied the knot. Maybe you worked for years to save up $100,000 toward your retirement fund.
- Gifts given directly to you or your spouse by a third party. For instance, maybe your parents are still alive and your mother gave you some jewelry, an important family heirloom that was passed down from her mother.
- Money from a personal injury lawsuit paid specifically for pain and suffering. You were hurt, so you deserve the compensation.
It should be noted that there are ways that separate property can turn into marital property. For instance, perhaps you saved up that $100,000 before marriage, but then you commingled it with your income in your joint bank account and used it to pay joint bills, rather than just saving it. Your spouse then likely has a claim to whatever money is left.
This process can get complicated, but it's critical to know exactly how assets are going to be divided. Take the time to learn about all of your legal rights.
Source: Huffington Post, "Understanding How Assets Get Divided In Divorce," Jeff Landers, accessed Nov. 9, 2017