Filing for divorce? Get the property that should be yours

Have you recently filed for divorce, or are you considering a legal separation? You may want to prepare for negotiations over issues involving property division. Deciding who leaves the marriage with what can be difficult to negotiate, especially when there are strong emotions involved. It is critical that you are aware of all types of marital property so you can be sure you receive everything the law entitles you to in the final divorce settlement.

Marital property includes everything you and your spouse accumulated during the course of your marriage. The family furniture, home, vehicles and bank account contents may come to mind when considering assets that are eligible for division. Yet, there are several other items that you should not overlook. These assets include the following:

  • Tax refunds and lottery ticket winnings
  • Term life insurance, stock options, 401(k) plans and retirement plans
  • Travel rewards points and other rewards points
  • Copyrights, trademarks and other intellectual property
  • Exclusive memberships to golf courses and country clubs
  • Expensive collections, such as art, antiques, cars and coins

Gifts given between you and your spouse during your marriage are also marital property, and you must divide them in the divorce settlement. In addition, if either spouse loaned money or property to someone during the marriage, each party should receive half of that money and/or property once the borrower pays it back. This is true even if the borrower does not begin making payments until after the judge issues the final divorce order.

Not all assets are marital property. Assets that either of you owned before the wedding that you kept separate from joint accounts and never shared use of during the marriage may be separate property. The spouse who has owned it gets to keep it.