Separate Property: What is it?
Separate property isn’t divided as part of a divorce. Separate property is retained by the spouse who owns it. Marital property is usually made up of both community property and separate property. In divorce, the couple plans how to divide the community property and keep their separate property. Separate property is property that is either 1: property that they had when they got married, 2: property they received as a gift during the marriage, 3: property they received by inheritance, and 4: personal injury awards, generally.
Property Owned before Getting Married
This category of separate property includes all types of property. It can be real property, furniture and furnishings, jewelry and even bank accounts and retirement accounts. Sometimes the case needs the lawyers to determine how much of a particular piece of property was ‘owned’ at the time of marriage to determine what part is separate property and what part is community property. Other times it is clear that something was owned outright at the time of marriage, like the classic futon from her college apartment furniture. Retirement accounts and other financial accounts can be broken down into parts too, by tracing the money that is there now to what was there when the couple got married. Engagement rings generally fall into this category, too.
Property that was a Gift during the Marriage
Gifts received by someone during a marriage are separate property. Gifts from parents, brothers and sisters and friends are good examples of gifts during marriage that can be call separate property.
Property Inherited during the Marriage
Property that someone inherits during marriage from a will or by common law are separate property.
Personal Injury Awards
A personal injury settlement or an award from a contested case, generally, is separate property. There are some legal nuances that may affect this, so if one of the spouses received a personal injury award during the marriage, it is important for the lawyer to know so that she can ask more questions to find out more about the case and the money received.
For more property questions, please contact our office to request an appointment with Jill O’Connell, 940-497-5454.
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