There are probably a lot of assets that you and your soon-to-be ex have accumulated and shared through the course of your marriage. As part of the divorce process, the court will look at exact sources of assets you and your ex own to determine if they are separate or marital property. Then, the judge will follow equitable distribution rules to divide marital property between the two of you.

What classifies as marital property?

From your wedding date and up until your divorce date, you might work to earn an income or use money you made for investments. The income you earn during marriage, real estate you purchase and investments you make through stocks or a retirement plan all classify as marital property.

However, there might be some investments you’ve made or property you owned prior to your marriage, like a beach home or motorcycle. This premarital property is known as separate property and a judge can’t divvy up your separate property during the divorce process. There are also two types of assets you can acquire during marriage that the court views as separate property. This includes gifts and inheritances an individual receives.

What does equitable distribution entail?

Once a court uncovers all your marital assets, the goal is to divide them in a way that is fair, but not necessarily 100% even. To create an equitable distribution, the judge will review the financial status of both you and your ex. They may note how much each of you contributed during marriage and if you will be able to seek employment after the settlement is final. They will also consider if the choices and actions of a spouse led to the divorce. So, if cheating or adultery was committed by your ex, then you may receive more than them.

A divorce attorney can help protect both your marital and premarital property.