Many couples own both marital assets and separate assets. These are assets that they own together and those that they own individually. It’s important to know which camp they fall into when getting divorced.
Now, these assets are not always categorized the way people assume. For instance, if you and your spouse bought a car for you to use on your commute you work, you may feel like it is your car. It’s not. It’s a joint asset that you own together.
One example of a separate asset is an inheritance. If your parents left you money directly, before or after your marriage, it likely counts as a separate asset. The goal that your parents had for that money is clear and your spouse can’t claim that they helped you earn or obtain it.
The best thing to do with an asset like this is to put it into its own account and keep it separate from everything else that you own. If you mix it, which is known as commingling the assets, you may then give your spouse a claim that the asset became marital property, not separate property.
The key to whether an asset is commingled often lies in understanding who has access or control of the asset. If you freely shared that money with your spouse, kept it in the same bank account with your other income, or used it to pay joint bills, your spouse can claim that the money was as much theirs as yours. If you want to make sure that something stays in your name only, keep it separate. While that may not guarantee that an asset will remain wholly your own, it’s a start.
The financial side of divorce often grows complex. Be sure you know what options you have. The best way to secure your financial future is by talking your situation over with an experienced advocate.