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What is the difference between separate and marital property?

While there are many difficult topics to tackle when going through a divorce, dividing property may be one of the most challenging. It is hard to distribute property that you have accumulated throughout your marriage, as you may have gotten attached to certain items.

Alabama is an equitable division of property state, meaning all martial property is divided in a way that is deemed fair to both parties. It is helpful to understand what marital and separate property entails to make sure you receive all that you are entitled to in the final divorce settlement.

What is marital property?

When thinking of marital property, you may consider the family home, cars, furniture and bank account contents. Yet, there are less common items that make up marital property as well, according to Financial Times. These include the following:

  • Lottery ticket winnings
  • 401k plans, retirement plans, term life insurance policies and stocks
  • Intellectual property, such as copyrights, trademarks and patents
  • Expensive collections, such as art, antiques, wines, coins and classic cars
  • Gifts exchanged between you and your spouse during the marriage
  • Memberships to exclusive country clubs and golf courses

Frequent flier miles and rewards points you have accumulated during the marriage can be divided as well. Any property or money you loaned to a third-party during your marriage is eligible for division in the settlement.

What is separate property?

There are some items you may be able to keep to yourself in the final decree. This includes gifts you have received from a third-party before, during or after the marriage. Furthermore, any property you owned prior to the marriage can remain entirely yours if the title only has your name on it. Personal injury compensation and inheritance money are also considered separate property.

Separate property can become marital property if it becomes mixed with your spouses items. For example, if you deposit your inheritance money in a joint bank account with your spouse, it may then be divided in the settlement.

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