Marital property

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
Marital property is any property jointly owned by a husband and wife that's been accumulated during the marriage, regardless of which spouse earned it. The time frame 'during the marriage' starts as of the day the couple marries, and usually ends on the date that the spouses begin to live apart, or the date that the spouses intend to live apart if they are unable to physically separate. In most states, marital property is divided during a divorce according to what the court determines is equitable. In the community property states of Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin, marital property is divided equally upon divorce. Separate property is owned by one spouse prior to marriage, or it's any property received as a gift or by inheritance during marriage. Property purchased with the separate funds of a spouse remains that spouse's separate property. A business owned by one spouse before the marriage remains his or her separate property during the marriage. A business may be considered marital property, however, if it increased in value during the marriage, or if both spouses worked at it. To change separate property into marital property, a community-property agreement must be prepared and signed by both husband and wife.

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