When a marriage ends, the couple must figure out how to divide up the marital assets between the two of them. Under Indiana’s equitable distribution laws, marital assets will be divided fairly and equitably between the exes, as determined by the family law judge on your case. The first step in the property division process or a divorce is making a list of all the assets and determining which ones are marital assets and which ones are separate.
Marital vs. separate assets
Marital assets are defined as assets acquired during the marriage, typically with marital funds. Common forms of marital property include both financial and physical assets, such as family homes, vacation properties or other real estate, furniture and vehicles, income, joint bank accounts and retirement and pension accounts.
Property that was brought into the marriage by one spouse or the other is considered separate property, as is an asset given to only one spouse during the marriage. Some examples of separate property may include gifts, inheritance, settlement proceeds from a personal injury lawsuit and collectibles owned by one spouse prior to marriage.
Commingling occurs when marital funds are used to contribute to or maintain an asset that was once separate property. For example, if one spouse owns a vehicle prior to marriage, but marital funds are used to make payments on the vehicle or perform maintenance on the vehicle, the separate property becomes commingled and essentially be treated as marital property.
Generally, each spouse will leave the marriage with whatever separate property belongs to them. The court will evaluate who gets what martial assets by considering various factors such as length of the marriage, contributions made to the marriage by each spouse, income levels of each spouse, etc.
Many couples accumulate many assets throughout their marriage, making it difficult to divide them up when the marriage ends. A family law attorney can protect your best interests during your divorce and help you keep the assets that mean the most to you.