Assets accrued before marriage are non-marital property. You can also acquire certain assets in the course of a marriage that could be classified as non-marital. This includes property you acquire through inheritance or personal gifts. Such assets must always be kept separate from marital property to avoid confusion if you would divorce. If you have commingled assets or property, it takes significant effort to disentangle non-marital property from marital property to prevent it from being subject to equitable distribution laws.
- Skill level:
Show the court that your personal assets have retained non-marital character throughout the marriage by presenting documentary evidence. The evidence must demonstrate that you acquired the assets through a gift, premarital ownership or an inheritance.
Provide estate planning documents including wills trusts, gift tax returns and other relevant documents used in probate proceedings listing the property. Once the source is substantiated, evidence must be provided to prove it has not been transmuted into marital property.
Seek the help of an accountant or a financial planner as an expert witness if the case is complicated. A financial professional can help you trace non-marital money. In some states, the law focuses on maintaining a certain degree of separation between the non-marital and marital property to ensure it doesn't become transmuted into marital property.
Allow a financial expert to help you untangle the non-marital and marital property if some kind of commingling has occurred. The money can retain its original identity if the separate assets only passed through the marital accounts briefly. Provide proper and detailed records to prevent the court from distributing as marital property. It only becomes complicated if you used one bank account for an extended period of time so that it becomes almost impossible to distinguish between personal and marital property.
Show bank statements or deeds indicating you had the money or assets long before the marriage. It becomes easy if you never mixed marital and personal property at any time during your marriage. You must also be aware that using personal money kept in a separate bank account for marital purposes doesn't make it marital property. If personal property appreciates in value on its own during marriage, it still remains non-marital. It only becomes commingled if the spouse owning it played an active role in its appreciation.
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