What is the difference between marital and separate property?

On Behalf of | May 11, 2021 | Blog, Divorce

Whether you have recently filed for divorce or are considering dissolving your marriage, you may feel overwhelmed with all of the matters to settle. One of the most difficult topics during the negotiations process is that of property division, according to the Financial Times.

In Pennsylvania, property is divided according to what is deemed fair and equitable by the judge presiding over the case. Since property is not divided equally in half, it is critical to understand what types of property are marital and separate to ensure you receive what you are entitled to in the final settlement.

What does marital property include?

The first thing you may think of when considering marital property is the family home and bank account. Shared property also involves the following:

  • 401k plans, stock options, money market accounts and term life insurance policies
  • Intellectual property, such as trademarks, copyrights and patent royalties
  • Airline reward miles and other loyalty points
  • Memberships to exclusive country clubs and golf courses
  • Lottery ticket winnings and income tax returns
  • Expensive collections, including wine, classic cars, art, antiques and coins

Any gifts you exchanged with your spouse during the marriage are also marital and subject to division in the final decree.

Can you divide separate property?

While separate property generally stays with the original owner, there are instances where it can become marital property and undergo division in the settlement. Separate property consists of items and assets owned prior to the marriage, as well as gifts you received during the marriage, such as inheritance money and gifts given to you by a third party.

If those gifts, property or assets become intermingled with marital property, however, they may be subject to division in a divorce. Avoiding depositing such funds in a joint bank account or revising the title of your property to include your spouse’s name are simple ways to keep your property separate.