Property division can be a contentious and stressful aspect of divorce. If you and your spouse can not agree on how to split up marital assets, a judge must decide for you.
Although Delaware has laws that define marital and separate property, the distinction may not be as clear as you think.
What are separate and marital property?
Generally, separate property consists of assets acquired before marriage with the exception of jointly-titled property, such as a house you and your partner bought together before marrying.
Marital property is property acquired during your marriage, with the following exceptions:
- Inheritances and gifts
- Property purchased with separate assets
- Property you and your spouse agree to keep separate
- Appreciation in value of separate property
Delaware law presumes that any property acquired during your marriage is marital property unless you can prove that one of these exceptions applies.
When does separate property become marital property?
In many situations, particularly when couples are together for a long time, separate property becomes marital property.
One common way couples commingle their separate assets is by investing them in a joint account. If you inherit money and deposit it into a joint account, your spouse may have a right to a portion of the money in your divorce.
A judge may treat an asset as marital property if you spend marital funds to improve it. If you inherit a house and use money from a joint account to pay for renovations, a judge will likely consider the house marital property.
In your divorce, you may have strong opinions about what property you should keep. However, the law may or may not be on your side. It is important to understand how Delaware law regards separate and marital property.