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What counts as marital property?

Many couples, swept along by the tide of expectation and hopeful feelings, do not enter into marriage with a solid grasp on exactly what being married does, and what marital property is. In the eyes of the law, marriage is very much a business contract, meaning that the person you marry generally may have a right to at least a portion of your belongings, especially those you acquire after being married.

Marital property may be anything that is wholly or partially owned by both parties in the marriage. Most often, this means your home, your vehicles, your household belongings and your monetary assets. If you both receive incomes that are deposited into joint accounts or are otherwise co-mingled, then it will be very difficult to prove how much of your monetary assets are one partner's or another's.

It is also important to note that debt is usually considered a form of marital property. Realistically, if you are entering into a marriage and one of you has a great deal of personal debt, it is wise to consider taking measures to protect the non-owing spouse from being legally yoked with the owing partner's debt.

When it comes to dividing marital property, especially in the event of a divorce, the less you have planned for that possibility, the more difficult and costly it can be to arrive at a division of property that both parties can agree to and that a judge will sign off on.

If you have any more detailed questions about marital property and steps you can take to protect yourself and your spouse from unnecessary conflict, do not hesitate to seek professional help. With the guidance of an experienced attorney, you can ensure that all parties' rights will remain protected.

Source: FindLaw, "Who Owns What in Marital Property?," accessed Feb. 07, 2017

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