What is the difference between marital and separate property?
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What is the difference between marital and separate property?

When you file for divorce in California, you are often faced with a myriad of issues to resolve. Dividing property that you have accumulated during the marriage can be one of the most difficult.

While some couples are able to discuss separation of property amicably, others rely on a court-appointed judge to determine the fate of their possessions. In addition to knowing how the divorce process works, it is important to understand the difference between marital and separate property.

What is marital property?

Otherwise referred to as community property, marital property includes everything amassed during the time you were married, according to the Financial Times. This includes more than the family home, vehicle, furniture and bank account contents. Marital property also includes the following less common items:

  • Collectibles, such as antiques, classic cars, art, wine and coins
  • Lottery ticket winnings and income tax returns
  • Term life insurance policies, 401k plans, retirement accounts and stocks
  • Frequent flier miles and other rewards points
  • Memberships to country clubs or exclusive golf courses

Any gifts exchanged between you and your spouse during the marriage is also martial and divisible in a divorce.

What is separate property?

Some property is not divisible in the settlement. For example, if you owned property prior to becoming married, it may stay in your possession even after the divorce is finalized. This holds true with inheritance money, personal injury compensation or gifts given to you by a third-party. If you should combine your property and assets with your spouse’s, however, the property becomes marital.

When you educate yourself on the differences of marital and community property, you can maximize your results in the final settlement.


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