What are Marital Assets?

The term “marital assets” is a legal concept involved in many divorce and separation cases. It refers generally to any property acquired during the period in which a couple is legally married. In most cases, it doesn’t matter which partner or spouse obtained title to the property—as long as it was acquired by either person during marriage, it may be characterized as a martial asset for purposes of divorce.

Marital assets may be used interchangeably with other family law terms, such as shared property or community property. Some states may have different definitions for these types of divorce property terms.

What are Examples of Marital Assets?

Common examples of marital assets include:

  • Homes and other real estate
  • Cars
  • Non-tangible assets like bonds, stocks, insurance, and pension plans
  • Increases in the value of existing marital assets

Examples of items that are NOT marital assets include:

  • Items acquired before the marriage
  • Items acquired by inheritance (especially if only one person is listed as the beneficiary)
  • Portions of the assets can be traced to separate property (for instance, if part of it was paid through separate assets before marriage)
  • Property which the partners agree to treat as separate property

A main portion of many prenuptial agreements and other marriage documents deal with the characterization of marital assets. Again, upon divorce, the property is usually split 50-50 between the parties.

What is Family Mediation?

In instances of a major dispute over marital assets, the couple may choose to file for family mediation. This is where the parties agree to resolve any differences outside of court, usually through a third-party mediator. A court can also prescribe mediation as a way of reducing the total amount of time spent in court.  Mediation can help the parties save resources by working together to come up with a plan for dividing marital assets. It can also be incorporated as part of the overall divorce process.

Even with mediation in place, the parties will still likely need to report with the court, and they may also require their own lawyers. This will help make the division of marital assets fairer for each party.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Marital Assets?

Marital assets can be subject to very different rules and laws depending on the state. If you have any inquiries or legal disputes involving marital assets, you may need to hire an experienced family law lawyer for advice. Your attorney can help provide you with the legal representation and guidance needed for a proper handling of marital assets.