Marital vs. separate property in a CA divorce

Knowing the difference between marital and separate property may help people get what they are entitled to in the settlement.

People who wish to terminate their marriage in California have a number of issues that they must negotiate before the divorce is finalized. One of the most difficult topics to discuss is that of property division. People often become attached to their items and it can be hard to part with property and assets that were accumulated during the marriage. When dividing property, it is important to understand the difference between marital and separate property, as there may be some things that stay with the original owner after the divorce.

What is marital property?

Marital property, sometimes referred to as community property, are items and assets that were amassed during the marriage. In addition to the family home, furniture, bank account and vehicles, marital property may include the following:

· Expensive collections, such as antiques, cars, horses, art and coins.

· Tax refunds and lottery ticket winnings.

· Gifts spouses gave to one another during the marriage.

· Exclusive memberships to country clubs and golf courses.

· Stock options, 401k plans, retirement, term life insurance policies and bonds.

· Intellectual property, such as royalties, trademarks, copyrights and patents.

If one spouse lent money to a family member or friend and that person has not yet repaid the money owed, the other spouse is still entitled to half of those assets as well.

Separate property

Some property is not eligible for division in a divorce. Separate property may stay with the original owner if it remains separate and is not mixed into the marital property. Property and/or assets that either couple had prior to the marriage may be considered separate if that property and money stayed in sole possession of that person throughout the marriage. For example, if a spouse owned property prior to the marriage and kept the title of the home solely in their name, it may stay with that spouse in the divorce settlement. If, however, the owner of the property modified the title to include the other spouse's name, it is considered marital and may be divided in the settlement.

Other types of separate property include inheritance that was given to either party before or during the marriage, gifts given by a third-party and any personal injury settlement won by either spouse.

Get what you're entitled to

It can be difficult to make crucial decisions while going through a divorce, as it is often a time where emotions run high. You may need a knowledgeable advocate to stand by your side and look out for your best interests when it comes to making these hard decisions. A divorce attorney in California may be helpful in ensuring you get what you are entitled to in the divorce settlement.