▪ Marital Property
The Court will categorize property as either separate or marital, and value that asset if marital in nature. Marital property includes all real and personal property, both tangible and intangible acquired by either spouse during the marriage up to the date of divorce. The Court is able to divide marital property, but lacks the ability to divide separate property.
▪ Separate Property
Separate property is owned by one spouse prior to the marriage. Although some items of property can be acquired during the marriage and still be one spouse’s separate property. These include: inheritance; gifts; pain and suffering awards; awards for future medical expenses and future lost wages; victim of crime compensation awards; disability insurance payments that replace future lost wages; social security benefits; and income from and appreciation in the value of separate property that accrues during the marriage.
▪ Doctrine of Transmutation
Under the doctrine of transmutation, separate property can become marital property subject to division, where each spouse made a substantial contribution to the “preservation and appreciation” of one spouse’s separate property, then the resulting income and/or increased value is marital property and subject to division.
When property becomes commingled, separate property can become marital property if it becomes so intertwined that it is impossible to separate. If the separate portion cannot be traced then the entire asset is presumed to be marital property For example, money from a marital account is occasionally used in one spouse’s separate investment account without a record of the transactions. If the funds become so commingled that they are impossible to separate, the entire account will become marital property.