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Differences between marital and separate property in a divorce

On Behalf of | Jan 30, 2023 | Divorce

When people start divorces in North Carolina, it may be the first time in a while that they closely looked at all of their property and assets. People will generally know what they own, but they may not always know the specific values of different property or exactly what they may own on a credit card or loan. However, during a divorce, couples need to equitably divide their marital property, which requires knowing the value of everything they own together.

In addition to valuing the property, couples will also have to determine which property is marital property and which property is considered separate property. This is important because generally, couples will only divide their marital property and keep any property that is considered separate.

Marital property

Marital property is at a basic level as any property either spouse acquired during the marriage. It does not matter which spouse’s name is on the title or on an account. If either spouse earned the money, purchased the property or started or grew a financial account during the marriage, the couple will need to divide it during the divorce.

Separate property

Separate property is property and accounts that either spouse owned prior to the marriage or after the separation date. Separate property also includes any gifts or inheritances that a spouse receives during the marriage unless the gift or inheritance was clearly given to both spouses. Separate property also includes any gains that separate property made during the marriage as well as any property a spouse purchases with separate property during the marriage.

Dividing property can be fairly straightforward or it can be very complicated, depending on the circumstances and types of property owned by the couple. However, at the start of the process, couples will need to determine what property is marital and what property is separate so the couple knows which property will be divided. Experienced attorneys understand the property-division process and may be able to guide one through it.