Marital property is any asset acquired by either spouse before or during the marriage. When you wed someone, your property becomes their property. Some examples of marital property include:
- Houses and other real estate
- Retirement and pension accounts
- Collectible items
Even if an item, such as a car or house, is purchased prior to the wedding and is titled in only one spouse’s name, it becomes the joint property of both spouses when they marry.
Each spouse has a 50% interest in the marital property.
A marital property agreement is a formal agreement that the spouses sign that classifies the ownership interest of any property. The spouses can also specify what happens to the property in the event of divorce or death. A marital property agreement is similar to an estate plan and provides the court with guidance on how to divvy up assets.
The spouses can enter into a marital property agreement before or during the marriage. Spouses often enter into these agreements when filing no-fault, uncontested divorce petitions. These divorce agreements are often called marital settlement agreements. The parties are essentially agreeing to settle who owns what prior to finalizing the divorce.
The circumstances of the marriage and the property owned by the parties will dictate what will be included in a marital property agreement. However, common items covered in a marital property agreement include:
- Child custody: If the spouses have a child together, the agreement may set out who is responsible for what aspect of the child’s upbringing. The agreement may also set forth a schedule for custody.
- Child support: The agreement may also set out what amount one spouse is to pay the other for child support and what exactly this support is to cover.
- Alimony: The agreement may discuss whether one spouse is entitled to alimony and at what amount.
- Marital debt: If the parties have lines of credit, such as car loans or credit cards, the agreement may specify who is responsible for paying.
- Real estate: If the spouses own a home together, the agreement may set out who gets the house in the event of a divorce.
- Other personal property: The agreement may also set out which personal property reverts to each spouse, such as cars or boats.
Marital property agreements are contracts, and they are binding. You want to make sure that the agreement covers everything in the event of an issue. An expert divorce lawyer can help you draft a marital property agreement and then enforce the agreement should divorce or death result.