Divorce can be difficult for many reasons. Among those reasons is the possibility of losing things that are important to you.
When you enter divorce trial in Wisconsin, the judge will determine how to divide all marital property in half. Each former spouse will walk away with close to 50 percent of the property from the marriage. However, there are some types of property that a court might consider belonging to only one spouse outside of the marriage.
Making sure that the court keeps separate property out of the divorce is important. If the court mistakenly classifies your spouse’s separate debt as marital debt, you would likely be responsible for roughly half that debt in some way. Likewise, proper classification helps you keep property that you own separately.
What is separate property?
Possible types of separate property may include:
- Inheritance for one spouse
- Gifts given to spouses individually
- Debt and property acquired before the marriage
If you have a prenuptial agreement, you might have already determined which assets belong to you separately. However, this would depend on the specific terms in your contract. Some couples who make prenuptial agreements decide not to keep property separate.
Did you combine your property?
It is important to note that separate property needs to stay separate. If you put your inheritance into a joint account with your spouse, for instance, your inheritance may become marital property. This is called “intermingling,” and an attorney can help you avoid it throughout the course of your marriage and divorce.
Communicate your separate property to the court
Do not assume that the court will automatically know which property you and your spouse own separately versus together. You might have to show that certain items, investments, money or debt belongs to a specific party. It is best to work with a qualified lawyer who can review your finances and argue on your behalf.