What Are Non-Marital Assets?

August 4, 2022

Being able to share anything and everything with your significant other is not just a romantic notion but is actually a practical one. Especially if marriage is on the table, you and your partner should be aware that your assets will be combined and considered owned together upon the finalization of the marriage. This is more commonly known as joint or marital property.

Not everything, however, is automatically deemed as joint or marital upon marriage. There is a distinction between property that was brought into the marriage and property that was obtained after the marriage. 

The distinction is crucial, especially if the couple decides to divorce later on. This will make it easier for the court to assign the division of properties as equitably as possible. Here are some notable differences between marital and nonmarital assets. 

Marital Assets

This type of asset refers to property obtained after marriage, which is considered joint or marital. Interspousal gifts and even the appreciation of assets deemed to be nonmarital will fall under this classification, especially if the spouse contributed to this appreciation. 

The interesting thing about this as well is that the definition of joint or marital property also extends to debts, unless otherwise stipulated. This means that any debt of the spouse also becomes the debt of the partner, making them both responsible for the fulfillment of the obligation to the debt.

There are some exceptions, of course. Such as when a spouse owes credit card debt, but the card is owned only by one individual. Since it’s not a joint account, then the other spouse does not have to be responsible for this credit card debt. 

Nonmarital Assets

Nonmarital assets, on the other hand, refer to property that the individual already possesses even prior to the finalization of marriage. For example, a condo unit owned by the wife before the marriage will remain an individual property. However, if the husband contributes to the repair or improves the unit afterward, resulting in its appreciation, then this appreciated value may be considered joint or marital. 

That’s why it’s important to specify in a prenuptial agreement that the entire property, including its appreciation, will remain to be classified as a nonmarital asset. Otherwise, it leaves an opportunity for the husband to claim a share in the property in case of a divorce. 

How a Lawyer Can Help

Individuals who have acquired and own assets prior to marriage should seek help from a lawyer. This can help ensure their rights as property owners will remain intact and absolute even when they change their civil status.

If they are okay with sharing an asset with their spouse, then they can simply make an explicit classification of the asset as a joint or marital one upon marriage. Various legal particulars cover marital and nonmarital assets, which is why it’s ideal to seek the help of a lawyer. 

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K.J. Law P.A.