Identifying marital and separate property

Divorce is an extensive process where two people who have become one must separate into individuals again. One of the most intricate parts of the process is the division of property

A critical aspect of property division is the classification of the assets. There are specific characteristics that help to determine this.


Different states designate marital property in a few ways, and the way in which they determine the marital property has a strong impact on property division. In the state of New Jersey, the courts implement equitable distribution of marital property. Instead of a 50-50 split, the courts look at the contributions of each party to the total marital property, as well as the future financial standing for each person. These and other factors help to determine the division of marital properties. 


There are certain assets that the courts do not consider to be marital property but rather separate. Main property generally includes the following:

  • Gifts and heirlooms
  • Inheritances
  • Personal injury settlements

These and other assets given to a specific person for personal use usually fall under separate property. In addition, the courts usually deem assets from previous marriages, such as a home or land, to be separate property as well.


Many couples commingle their funds and assets. For example, they may open a joint bank account and add their personal funds. By doing this, the spouses are commingling their funds, and in many cases, they all become marital property in the eyes of the court. However, this is not always the case. If a spouse is able to track the addition and use of a specific asset amongst the commingled property, the court may deem it separate property.

These are a few important characteristics of the different classification designations. For those considering or going through the divorce process, it may be beneficial to review the law and consult with a knowledgeable attorney to determine the best course of action for securing important assets.

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