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Separation vs. marital property: How to spot the difference
Separation vs. marital property: How to spot the difference
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Property division is often a heated topic in a Massachusetts divorce. It involves separating all property and assets that you accumulated throughout your marriage. However, not all property is marital and some items may stay with you even after the divorce is finalized. 

Whether you want to divide property using mediation or through a courtroom divorce, it is critical to understand the difference between marital and separate property. This will ensure you receive all that you are entitled to in the final decree. 

What is marital property?

Marital property includes more than simply the car, home and contents of the bank account. It also involves often overlooked items, such as the following: 

  • Lottery ticket winnings 
  • Income tax returns 
  • Frequent flier miles and rewards points 
  • Expensive collections, such as wine, classic cars, coins and antiques 
  • Intellectual property, such as patents, copyrights and trademarks 
  • 401k plans, retirement plans, stock options and term life insurance policies 

Any gifts exchanged between you and your spouse while you were married are also considered marital property. They too may be divided in the divorce settlement. Property loaned to another party during the marriage can be divided once it is returned. 

What is separate property?

Separate property can remain with you through the divorce process. In order to have the ‘separate’ status, the property title must only have your name. Other separate property includes inheritance money and gifts other people have given you before, during and after the marriage. Furthermore, any personal injury compensation you receive. If any separate property becomes intermingled with marital property, or if you revise the title of the property to include your spouse’s name, it then becomes marital property and can be divided in the settlement.