In the practicing family law, there are a lot of misconceptions about what marital property is. While the definition of marital property may differ between parties involved, nevertheless, marital property is anything and everything owned by the parties.
We hear questions such as “Only my name is on the house, so that is off the table, right?” Wrong. It does not matter how the house is titled. It can be in either name individually or owned jointly. Another statement often made is “I owned the house before the marriage, so I get to keep it.” This is also wrong. It does not matter when or how the property was purchased; everything goes into the pot to be divided.
The definition of marital property is as follow:
Property shall include all tangible and intangible property and assets, real or personal, belonging to either or both parties, whether title to the property is held in the name of either or both parties. Intangible property includes, but is not limited to, employment benefits, vested and non-vested pension or other retirement benefits, or savings plans. To the extent permitted by law, property shall include military retirement and veterans’ disability benefits.
However, just because everything is subject to division by the courts, that does not mean that it will be. The court can deviate from an equal division based on variety of factors, including the length of the marriage, what property was owned prior to the marriage, and the contributions of each party to the marital property. Each case is based on the specific facts and circumstances of the couple.