What is marital property?
Divorce is a time of huge upheaval in the lives of a family. Relationships end or change, living arrangements change, and a couple’s financial lives are disentangled. As part of that process, the couple must separate out marital property from separate property and divide all marital assets and liabilities.
How property is characterized at the time of a divorce makes a big difference in terms of how that property is treated during the divorce. In Oklahoma, property can either be marital or separate property during a divorce.
Marital property is everything that a couple has acquired during their marriage. This includes tangible items such as cash, investments, homes, cars, furniture, and the like. But it can also include some intangibles such as the goodwill that a business owned by the couple has generated over the years.
Separate property is everything else. However, most property that you own as a married person is marital, not separate. Separate property is really a very narrow band of items for the most part. It will usually fall into one of three categories:
- Property acquired before the marriage
- An inheritance or other gifts acquired before or after marriage
- Personal injury lawsuit recoveries or settlement amounts
However, even property in these categories can be changed into marital property.
Transmutation Can Change Separate Property into Marital Property
Transmutation is the changing of how property is characterized under Oklahoma law. It is a legal construct. It allows property to be converted from one type to another. Transmutation can occur by agreement of the parties such as in a prenuptial agreement.
In a valid prenuptial agreement, the parties agree to treat the property as either separate or marital depending on their desires. This will affect how that property is treated in a divorce.
Transmutation can also occur because of the actions of the parties. It occurs not as a result of the way one acquires the property in the first place, but rather as a result of how that property is treated once it is acquired. Commingling, changing how property is held, and gifting are all ways in which the character of property can change.
This often occurs in unexpected ways. If you are given a home as an inheritance and then change the way the title is held to include your spouse, you can change the character of the home. If you are given a cash inheritance and deposit it into a joint account, you can transmute that property. In both of these cases, the act creates a presumption that you are making a gift to your spouse. That makes the property marital property.
If you and your spouse are buying a home and you contribute your separate cash assets, you have commingled them and they can become marital property. Sometimes you can overcome these presumptions. In these cases, small facts can make a big difference.
If you have questions about your particular circumstances, bring them to an experienced Wagoner divorce attorney. Your attorney can help you understand your situation and what options may be available to you.
Free Consultation with a Wagoner Divorce Attorney
Property issues can be complex. Get the help you need today. Wirth Law Office – Wagoner offers its clients the best possible divorce, child custody, and child support representation in the Wagoner, Oklahoma area at reasonable rates.
We invite you to schedule a free consultation to discuss what we can do for you. Contact the Wirth Law Office – Wagoner at (918) 485-0335 to schedule your free consultation. You can also fill out the form at the top of the page.