January is a common month for people to initiate divorces. Many who do so believe that they should start the New Year with a new life…without their spouse. But with the divorce process comes a number of questions, especially regarding how property may be divided. Property (and debt) division disputes can be very contentious, so it is important to know at the outset what the difference between marital property and non-marital property as defined by Utah law.
Marital property is generally defined as all assets and property accumulated by the spouses during the course of the marriage. This can include wages, business interests, stock options, as well as retirement benefits earned during the marriage. Marital property can also include joint debts owed by the spouses. The complete accumulation of property is known as the martial estate. This type of property is subject to equitable division upon divorce.
Non-marital (or separate) property is property that is not included in the marital estate. Non-marital property generally includes property that has been acquired by either spouse prior to the marriage, or after the property valuation date. Property obtained through an inheritance (or by gift) during the marriage can also be deemed non-marital property. This type of property is not commonly subject to division, meaning that a spouse can keep this property.
Despite the general characterization of marital and non-marital property, property between spouses can be divided according to a valid prenuptial agreement. Naturally, the prenup could be challenged and invalidated if defects are found. To learn more, consult an experienced family law attorney.