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What’s the difference between marital and non-marital property?

On Behalf of | Nov 18, 2022 | Family Law |

Divorce and separation are rarely happy occasions. Even when the split is amicable, couples in Kentucky can become irrational when it comes to dividing property or discussing custody and visitation matters.

The longer you’re married and the larger your estate, the more complex property division will become during a divorce.

Legislators try to keep it simple when it comes to property distribution in Kentucky. What was yours before marriage remains yours unless you deem it otherwise.

However, there are some unforeseen differences that could throw you for a loop if you’re unaware of them.

The hidden side of marital property vs non-marital property

Generally speaking, anything a couple accumulates together or acquires during marriage becomes marital property. That includes real estate and tangible personal property, such as vehicles or jewelry.

Even a bank account or stocks that are solely in your name become joint marital property if they were earned or purchased during your marriage.

Non-marital property is also called separate property because it is owned by one party or the other outside the bonds of matrimony.

The most common example of this is a home that was bought by one party before the marriage but lived in by the couple after they wed. However, even that could become marital property if both spouses contributed to its upkeep or improvement by a substantial amount.

Exceptions to marital property laws include:

• Property purchased before marriage that is not comingled with marital assets

• Assets acquired after the couple was legally separated

• Inheritances

• Property that is deemed separate by decree and agreement by both parties, such as assets set aside in a trust

Division of property during a divorce is also determined by the state of residence during the marriage. For example, community property states require a 50/50 division regardless of how the assets are designated, by whom, or where they are located. Kentucky is not one of them.