Property acquired by either spouse during marriage is considered marital property and will need to be divided if the couple decides to get divorced. Likewise, any debts that were acquired are viewed as marital debts and will also be divided between spouses during divorce. Many couples have complex financial portfolios that include a wide variety of assets (and often debts as well), and determining the best way to divide them requires vast experience and organization.
Marital property, sometimes referred to as marital assets, may include:
- Real estate including properties and homes
- Furniture and art
- Businesses owned by one or both spouses
- Investments and retirement accounts including 401(k) plans, stock plans and stock options, deferred compensation, and others
Anything purchased during a couple’s marriage is viewed as marital property, even if it was purchased in only one party’s name.
Just like marital property, debts acquired during marriage will need to be divided among divorcing spouses. Common marital debts include:
- Credit card bills
- Loans including those for vehicles, college, home equity, etc.
- Tax obligations
Even if a credit card, loan, or other obligation was filed in one spouse’s name, both parties are responsible if it was obtained and/or used during the marriage.
When dividing assets among divorcing spouses, the court will consider some property to be separate. These items may include:
- Property acquired by either spouse prior to the marriage
- An inheritance received by either spouse
- A gift to one of the spouses from a third party
Any property that was excluded by a prenuptial agreement will not be included in the division of property during divorce. While there are exceptions in some individual cases, all other assets are generally considered marital property and will be divided during divorce.
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