In almost every divorce case, a primary concern for both spouses is the division of assets. There is good reason for this, regardless of how long the couple has been married. Upon divorce, each spouse will embark upon a new chapter of life. Being secure financially can make the transition much easier than it otherwise would be.
Not all assets the spouses have will be divided in a divorce. That distinction is saved for those considered marital assets. In general, a marital asset is any property that is acquired in the course of the marriage. As is the case with many things in the law, there are exceptions to that rule.
The first exception is the matrimonial home. This property does not need to be acquired during the course of the marriage to fit this definition. It also does not have to be in both spouses’ names. Instead, it is defined as the property that is shared by the couple while they are married.
Inheritances, gifts, trust money and insurance proceeds and settlements are also generally not considered to be part of the couple’s marital assets. This changes if during the marriage the money is used for the benefit of the family.
Property acquired after the couple separates, or that is exempted under a separate agreement or marriage contract, is also exempted, as are business assets.
Because the average individual is not aware of the various rules that apply to divorces, those who are in that situation should take steps to secure the best possible outcome. In most situations this involves seeking the assistance of a lawyer who has experience with divorces.