Hafemeyer Law

Divorce: Marital and Non-Marital Property

There are two types of property that the Court addresses when examining assets in a divorce case: marital and non-marital property. A common definition of property includes assets such as pensions, retirement investments, real property (land and home) personal property (vehicles, furniture and jewelry), and appreciation of an asset brought into the marriage.

The basis for the Court’s decisions in this area stem from the belief that marriage is a partnership between two individuals and that each party makes a valuable contribution to the financial well-being of the family. A homemaker’s contribution to the marriage is viewed with similar value as the party that works outside the home as the “bread winner.”

Although no two cases are exactly the same, typically marital property includes all of the assets gained during the marriage. Non-marital property can be an asset that was brought into the marriage or an inheritance received while married. An inheritance and whatever was purchased with the inheritance in many cases is determined to be non-marital property.

Non-marital property is different from marital property because it is 100% owned by the party that brought the property into the relationship. An example of a non-marital asset would be a classic vehicle that one spouse purchased on their own prior to the marriage. In most dissolution cases, the Court grants each party ownership of their non-marital property.

Real property (e.g. the home the parties live in) and investments can be more difficult to classify.  For example, when one party owns a house at the time of the marriage and continues to hold the house during the marriage paying down the mortgage, this asset would likely be classified as both marital and non-marital.

The value of the home at the time of the marriage may be non-marital, but any appreciation that was gained through paying down the mortgage during the marriage would most likely be a marital asset.

An important factor in classifying each asset as marital or non-marital is whether the asset has been comingled with other marital assets.  A common example of comingling assets is an inheritance. If one party receives $10,000 from a relative at their death and the money is deposited into a joint account, it may be argued by the other party that the asset is marital because the non-marital asset (the inheritance) was comingled with the marital asset (the joint bank account).

Determining which category an asset will fall into cannot be certain, but an attorney experienced in family law can investigate the details of each asset in order to assist parties in obtaining an equitable distribution of property.

If you have questions about whether an asset may be marital or non-marital contact me at 507.384.3125 to discuss your unique situation.

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