The Law Blog of Oklahoma

Marital Property or Separate Property?

Posted: Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Next to determining custody and visitation, property division is perhaps the most challenging and hotly contested issue in a divorce. In divorces that do not involve children, division of the marital estate typical causes more conflict than any other issue.

In Oklahoma, marital assets are distributed through "equitable division." This means that the property accumulated during your marriage--including both assets and debts--will divided somewhat equally between both partners. When dividing property in a divorce, the court does not look at factors such as who cheated on whom or who was the bigger jerk. In other words, division of property is not intended to be punitive. You do not get the lion's share of the estate simply because your spouse initiated an affair, your husband is insensitive, or your wife is inattentive.

When a divorcing couple cannot agree on the division of assets, the court must determine what is considered marital property and what is considered separate property.

In general, marital property is any property or assets accumulated during the marriage or in furtherance of the marital goals. Separate property, on the other hand, is property or assets accumulated by an individual prior to the marriage or subsequent to a permanent separation. Separate property also includes gifts and inheritances given to an individual partner.

There are some situations in which property obtained prior to a marriage becomes a part of the marital estate. This can include a home owned by one partner prior to the marriage when that home is converted to marital property as the family home.

When a partner in the marriage is a business owner, or when the couple jointly owns the business, division of the business assets including business goodwill can be extremely complex. Often, discussions about the division of business assets can quickly disintegrate. When a couple cannot come to an agreement and mediation halts, the court is left to determine how the property will be equitably distributed. For this reason, it is imperative that parties to a divorce have effective legal counsel. A divorce lawyer should have significant experience in finance and property division matters, and should have the available resources to demonstrate separate property which must be protected.

Click here to learn more about property division in Oklahoma.

In addition to the division of the marital estate, a divorce's other financial concerns include support alimony and child support. Proper valuation of the estate and each partner's earning capacity is instrumental in obtaining a fair divorce decree. Find a lawyer who can successfully represent your interests and protect your assets during and after your divorce.

Image Credit: Steven Depolo

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