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How do separate and marital property differ?

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2022 | Family Law

Going through a divorce is often complicated and filled with emotion. One of the most difficult topics to negotiate is property division. People become attached to items they have accumulated during the marriage.

Minnesota, like many other states in the nation, separates assets based on the equitable division of property model. According to the Minnesota Legislature, this means that the court divides all marital property based on certain factors in the case. It is important for people to know what marital and separate property is so they can receive what they deserve in the final divorce settlement.

What is marital property?

Marital property consists of more than just the family home, furniture and vehicles. There are other, less common items that may get overlooked. These items could include the following:

  • Memberships to country clubs or exclusive golf courses
  • Intellectual property, such as patents, copyrights and trademarks
  • Expensive collections, such as antiques, classic cars, art, coins or wine
  • Lottery ticket winnings
  • Income tax returns
  • 401k plans, retirement plans, stocks and term life insurance policies

Any gifts spouses exchange between one another are also considered marital assets.

What is separate property?

Some properties may stay with the original owner. This includes personal inheritances, gifts given to a person by a third-party or personal injury compensation. It also includes assets that one spouse owned prior to the marriage.

In order to stay separate, however, the possessions must remain in the primary name of the original owner. For example, a home owned by a person prior to the marriage must stay in their name. If the owner adds a spouse to the deed, it then becomes marital property.

Determining what is marital or separate property can be challenging. Divorcing couples should collect all records to ensure a fair outcome.