Identifying the difference between marital and separate property

There is a distinct difference between marital and separate property when dividing property in a divorce case.

The topic of property division can be one of the most difficult to discuss when going through a divorce. As people accumulate assets and property throughout their marriage, they often grow an attachment to their possessions. When it comes time to determine who is entitled to what, these emotions may rise to the surface. Not all property, however, may be eligible for division when terminating a marriage in Utah. It is crucial that divorcing couples understand the difference between marital and separate property in order to ensure that they get everything they are entitled to in the divorce settlement.

Separate property defined

Depending on the specific circumstances surrounding the divorce case, separate property can remain in the possession of the original owner. According to the Utah Court, property that is owned by either spouse prior to the marriage is considered separate. An inheritance or third-party gift received before or during the marriage may be separate property as well. It is important to note that separate property can lose its non-marital status if it is combined with other types of marital property. For example, if an inheritance is deposited into a joint bank account with the other spouse, it may become marital property. Furthermore, if a spouse's name is added to the title of a property that was owned by the other spouse prior to marriage, it may become marital as well.

Type of marital property

Although marital property may seem pretty straightforward, there are some types of jointly owned property and/or assets that many people may not consider. In addition to the furniture, vehicles and homes that were amassed during the marriage, the following are types of marital property that may be divided during a divorce, as reported by Forbes:

• Costly collections, such as art, cars and antiques

• Vacation homes

• Memberships to country clubs, golf courses and other exclusive organizations

• Intellectual property, such as patents, royalties, trademarks and copyrights

• 401K plans, pensions, life insurance policies and stocks from previous employers

• Tax refunds

Points accumulated on a travel rewards program, pets and cemetery plots are also thought to be marital and could be distributed during a divorce.

Getting what you're entitled to

When you file for divorce, you may not fully understand the specific procedure. The attorneys at Kristopher K. Greenwood & Associates may be helpful in explaining the divorce process, exploring your legal options and answering your questions. A lawyer may help to ensure you get everything you deserve in the divorce settlement.