It is an unfortunate statistic that a first marriage lasts 12 years on average, and 50% of those end up in divorce. This means while couples are planning on how to spend the rest of their lives together, they should also have a plan in place for how to spend the rest of their lives separately.
During a marriage, a couple accumulates a lot of assets and liabilities together. A house, bank accounts, property, investment accounts, college accounts and vehicles are just some of the assets people end up collecting together. And when it comes to property division at the end of the marriage, all these assets are divided between couples equitably. It is important to keep in mind this is not the same as equally. Assets will not necessarily be divided in half.
While marital property is money and assets earned after the couple got married, separate property is that which is owned by one spouse only, either from before the marriage or afterwards if it was acquired by bequest, gift or devise. Property bought through money owned from before the marriage could also be considered separate property. However, this can become tricky at times as money may be placed in a joint account or time and energy spent on a project after the couple gets married can make the property joint.
If a couple cannot agree on how to divide their property through a post-nuptial agreement, premarital agreement or agreement during divorce negotiations, then the court will make the decision for them. The court will consider a number of factors, including incomes and liabilities of each spouse, duration of the marriage and age of health of each spouse.