There’s nothing wrong with sharing during your marriage. After all, you pledged to be together forever. That is, until you decided to divorce.
Now, you face dividing all of the assets you acquired during your marriage. Wait. What do you do about those assets that belonged to you prior to your marriage that you shared with your spouse? Are those assets still yours alone? Maybe not.
Determining whether you commingled separate assets
In order to determine whether all or a portion of an asset you brought into the marriage may be part of the marital estate, you may want to consider the following questions:
- Did you own a home prior to marriage that you used marital funds to improve, repair or maintain during the marriage? Did marital funds pay the mortgage loan?
- Did you and your spouse pool your separate resources in order to purchase a home or some other asset together during the marriage?
- Did you deposit money from an inheritance into a joint account?
- Do you have a joint deposit account in which both of you placed money during the marriage?
- Did you use separate assets to pay off a marital debt?
- Did you maintain a separate bank account for monies you brought into the marriage?
- Did you add your spouse to the deed to the home you owned prior to marriage?
- Did you purchase property you believed to be separate with marital funds?
Your answers to these questions will determine whether you will need to count certain assets, accounts and monies as part of the marital estate or as your separate property. Even if you believe an asset remained yours alone during the marriage, you will more than likely still need to provide evidence of that fact to the court since it will more than likely begin with the assumption that you own all assets jointly.
Coming to an agreement
If you believe that there is some grey area regarding who owns what assets, you may want to negotiate your own divorce settlement. Doing so could provide you with more negotiating power when it comes to certain assets. Your future ex-spouse may be willing to part with one asset in exchange for another, especially if you are working together in a non-adversarial environment to come to an agreement.
Even if you stay out of the courtroom, that does not negate the need to make sure that you protect your rights as you endeavor to achieve the most beneficial and satisfactory settlement possible.