Marital property vs. separate property in divorce process

Divorce can be an expensive endeavor. We’re not talking about court costs and attorney fees, but rather the loss of financial resources often seen during marriage dissolution. Whether a South Carolina couple decides to negotiate a divorce settlement or take the matter to court and litigate, property division must be addressed. Those who don’t know how property division works in South Carolina and how to make arguments to support their position can be left at a serious disadvantage. This, in turn, may result in an individual losing out on assets to which he or she may be entitled.

As a baseline rule, marital property is the only property subject to the division process. The question then becomes about what constitutes marital property. Generally speaking, those assets that are acquired during the course of the marriage will be deemed marital property. There are exceptions, though. An inheritance left to just one of the spouses, for example, may be deemed separate property and not subject to division during divorce. Assets purchases with such an inheritance may also be considered separate property. Assets that are owned prior to marriage and after the date of legal separation will also be considered separate in nature.

However, disputes can arise as to whether separate property has become marital property. Separately owned assets that are deposited into a joint bank account which is used to buy other marital property, for example, may lose its status and be deemed marital property subject to division.

Once assets are classified as marital or separate, the process of determining equitable division can begin. This means that the division must be fair, which is not necessarily the same thing as equal. Therefore, there are arguments to be had when disputes arise over certain assets. South Carolinians who want to learn more about how to build these arguments to support their position should speak to an experienced family law professional of their choosing.