Keeping Some Property Separate During a Marriage
There are several ways you can keep some of your assets separated after you get married, even though many of the assets you own will become marital assets (meaning they would be subject to property division if you get divorced). It can take some planning to make this work, however.
The most common tool used is a prenuptial agreement, which clearly delineates which assets belong to which spouse. However, you do not necessarily need to use a prenup to keep property separate, which is good if either of you feel uncomfortable with the idea of using such an agreement and potentially causing some friction in the relationship.
Below are a few specific tips for keeping some property separate during a marriage:
- Family businesses: Many families run small businesses for generations. A divorce resulting in the division of that business could be devastating to the family that has spent so many years running it. If your intent is to keep the business in the family, you should not give your spouse any level of control over any aspect of it, and all shares in that business should stay in your name. Even working for the family business could result in your spouse having an interest in the company.
- Inheritance and gifts: A gift or inheritance, no matter when it’s acquired, will usually be considered separate property in the eyes of the law. However, if the gift is some type of home or other property you used or improved during the marriage, there could be some complicating factors — especially if you used marital funds to maintain or improve it. The best way to protect yourself and keep that property separate is to not use marital funds for its maintenance and to avoid commingling these gifts and inheritances with marital property.
- Property from a prior marriage: If you were previously married, you likely have some assets left over from the first marriage. You may wish to keep those separate, especially if you’re looking to protect your children’s right to inherit those assets. You may work with an attorney to figure out how best to protect these assets without a prenup.
For more tips when it comes to marital and separate property, meet with a dedicated Long Island divorce attorney at Bryan L. Salamone & Associates.