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What Is Marital Property?

Once you decide to file for divorce, one of the first details that you will need to consider is the division of property. When two people marry, many of their most important assets become marital property, which is subject to division during a divorce. Before you can begin dividing your assets, you will need to know what is and isn’t marital property.

Marital versus Separate Property

In many states, marital property refers to the property that you or your spouse acquire while you are married. This property becomes marital property regardless of who actually purchased it or whose name is on the title. Some states consider marital property to be community property and divides these assets evenly between both spouses.

Separate property, on the other hand, typically refers to the property that you or your spouse owned before your marriage. In many cases, property that a spouse receives as an inheritance or gift during marriage is also separate property. However, these rules vary from state to state—and Indiana looks at marital property in a different way.

How Does Indiana Divide Property During Divorce?

Unlike other states, Indiana does not consider separate property as separate from division during a divorce. Under Indiana law, separate property that a spouse owns prior to marriage becomes marital property once he or she becomes married. The court will divide the following types of property when you and your spouse file for divorce.

  • Property that you or spouse owns before marriage
  • Property that you or your spouse acquire after marriage
  • Property acquired before your final separation
  • Property that you and your spouse acquire jointly

Indiana does not recognize the concept of community property. Instead, the state divides marital assets according to an equitable property division standard. This means that the court will divide the property in a just and reasonable manner—usually, the court will divide the assets evenly. However, there are certain circumstances where the court may decide an uneven split is more equitable.

Uneven distribution usually occurs when one spouse was the source of the property, when one spouse wastes the property, or if one spouse has a greater need for the property than the other person. To decide how to divide marital property, the court will consider the following factors.

  • The economic circumstances of each spouse after the court finalizes the divorce
  • The contribution of each spouse toward the acquisition of marital property
  • Whether a spouse acquired a piece of property before the marriage or as a result of a gift or inheritance
  • The earning ability of each spouse as related to the final division of marital property
  • The conduct of each spouse during the marriage as related to each piece of marital property

Consult an Indianapolis Divorce Lawyer

If you are considering divorce and want to protect your assets, it is important to consult with an Indianapolis divorce lawyer. Your lawyer will understand the intricacies of Indiana’s marital property laws and will advocate for your best interests during mediation and trial.

An Indiana divorce lawyer will also help you prepare for each stage of the proceedings, reducing your stress and allowing you to focus on building your new life. Contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your next steps.