When getting a separation or divorce, it is a very common practice to divide the property either through a mutual agreement or through a court proceeding. When taken into court, these disputes are dealt with in terms of what is shared property and what is separate property. As these determinations are made, anything deemed to be separate property is not relevant to the proceeding and belongs to the person whose separate property it is. Shared property will be deemed to belong to both husband and wife, and its future owner will be decided by the court.

What is Commonly Referred to as Separate Property?

The following are the most common forms of separate property: 

  • inheritances and gifts
  • heirlooms
  • chattels used wholly or principally for a business
  • property acquired under a trust
  • property that the partners declare is separate under an agreement
  • property acquired before the relationship began
  • property acquired with the proceeds of separate property and not intended for the use or benefit of both partners

What is Commonly Referred to as Shared Property?

The following are the most common forms of shared property: 

  • home taken in the name of husband and wife
  • the family chattels, which include the furniture, fittings, household equipment and appliances, vehicles, and boats, even if they are in one person's name
  • any common or jointly-owned property
  • property acquired before the relationship began if it was intended for the couple's common use or benefit
  • all earned income and property bought after the relationship began
  • the value added during the relationship to superannuation and life insurance policies

Should I Contact a Family Law Attorney?

If you are going through a divorce and are in a dispute over the status of property, you may find the advice of a family attorney to be extremely helpful. Because of the complicated nature of divorce proceedings, the counsel of a divorce attorney that specializes in these kinds of disputes can be beneficial when evaluating how to proceed with the separation or divorce.