What is Marital Property?

When a married couple divorces, one of the core issues they need to deal with is how their marital property is divided. Under the doctrine of equitable distribution, the couple’s marital property is meant to be divided equitably between both spouses. But what is it, exactly? Is it just splitting up everything you own, or is it more complex?

Marital property, broadly defined, is every piece of property, and all the money, that both spouses gain after they are married. It also includes any money or property from outside the marriage that is merged into, or comingled with, marital property, through means such as sharing bank accounts, or by buying shared property like a car or a house. Meanwhile, any money you earned from before the marriage or after the divorce action is commenced, as well as anything you may have received through gifts, an inheritance, or a personal injury reward, remains separate property, unless you deliberately comingle it with your marital property.

There are also other, stranger considerations. In New York, for example, any degree or certification earned by a spouse during the marriage is considered marital property, for the purposes of determining how marital property will be divided. The reasoning is that degrees are costly, and while the benefits of that degree are enjoyed by both members of a couple while they are married, only the person with the degree can benefit from it after the divorce. Also, any pensions or retirement benefits that vest during the marriage also count, thus entitling a divorcing spouse to a portion of those benefits.

If you’re going through a divorce, you’ll need legal representation to get the best outcome possible. The matrimonial attorneys at the Marnell Law Group have the knowledge and experience you need to fight for your rights and protect your assets. We provide matrimonial representation across Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Give us a call at (516)-542-9000 or send us a message through our contact page.