Skip to main content
Asset and Property Division
The process of dividing assets during divorce and determining who gets what.
Want to Receive More Information?
A client satisfaction representative will contact you back.

"*" indicates required fields

Step 1 of 2

Asset Division and Property Division

Asset and Property Division of a nice home during a divorce

Every marriage has at least one topic in common – property. Whether they own a million-dollar mansion or a beat-up RV, a couple will always have to divide up the property and debt.

Certain assets remain the exclusive property of one of the marriage partners, even after marriage, and some will be divided. This is done with debts as well. Most debt incurred while married will be shared upon dissolution, though a few personal debts may remain exclusively yours.

Remember that the divorce judgment establishes the obligation between the spouses but does not change the contractual obligations of one or both spouses to the lender.

Marital or Community Property

Marital or community property is defined as assets and debts newly acquired during the marriage, either jointly or by one party, other than by a gift or inheritance to one spouse.

Most states do not have a set mathematical formula for division, and the court will determine a fair distribution based upon a combination of factors as set forth in the state’s statutes.

Related Article: Property Division in a Community Property State

Non-Marital or Separate Property

Non-marital or separate property are the assets and debts owned prior to the marriage that remain unchanged, or gifts or inheritances during the marriage to one spouse (usually including gifts by one spouse to the other).

Related Article: Separate and Marital Property

Commingled Property

Commingled property are the assets and debts that were non-marital but which were traded in to acquire new property, repaired or enhanced during the marriage with marital funds, or non-marital debts paid with marital funds.

Related Article: Commingling Separate and Community Property


Dissipation is the use of marital assets or creation of marital debt by one spouse for non-marital purposes once the marriage has begun to unravel. The spouse found to have caused dissipation might be required to reimburse the marital estate.

Related Article: What Counts As Dissipation Of Assets In A Divorce Case?

Premarital Agreement

Also known as a prenuptial agreement, a premarital agreement is the primary method of keeping separate property from becoming joint property after marriage. A premarital agreement specifies the separate property of each party, any property agreed to be joint property, and dictates how property acquired during the union will be treated as either separate or joint.

Related Article: Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements 101

vacation home at the beach

Real Estate

The acquisition of real estate in joint names or the transfer of existing real estate into joint ownership creates legal rights and liabilities for both parties. Real estate acquired by one spouse after marriage is generally going to be treated as marital property subject to the claims of the other party.

If the desire is not to create rights of the spouse in real estate, a marital attorney should be consulted prior to the acquisition of the property to determine if segregation of the property is legally possible.

Related Article: Protecting Your Assets in a Divorce

Business Property

For income-producing real estate and self-employment business assets, the creation of a business entity, such as a corporation, limited liability company or trust, can be used effectively to segregate the property. While appropriate efforts may segregate the property itself, the income form the business during the marriage – and possibly increases in value of the business property – may still be marital property.

Related Article: Does My Wife Get A Part Of My Business If We Divorce?

Bank Accounts and Investments

Money is the asset that is the most difficult to track for the establishment of joint or separate assets. Like real estate, bank accounts and investments can be held individually or jointly. By placing the funds in a joint account, you are making a gift to the other party of the entire account.

The bottom line is keep the funds and accounts separate. Keeping track of every transaction is the first step in keeping segregated funds separate.

Beneficiary Status and Wills

It is always advisable to designate a beneficiary of your assets so that in the event of your death, the transfer of property will go smoothly. If you do not have a will naming a beneficiary, then state law will divide your property.

Related Article: Removing Wife As Life Insurance Beneficiary Before Divorce

Property Ownership Issues in Child and Spousal Support Cases

If your spouse receives or pays maintenance or child support, the commingling of assets and filing joint tax returns may subject your income and individual property to scrutiny by opposing counsel and the court in reviewing your spouse’s support needs or obligation.

If you wish to attempt to keep your assets and income out of your spouse’s litigation, you should maintain clearly segregated accounts and records, including separate tax returns.

Frank Murphy

Edited By Frank Murphy

Chief Compliance Officer
Frank Murphy

Frank Murphy is the Chief Compliance Officer and an Executive Partner at Cordell & Cordell. His responsibilities include oversight of the Firm’s compliance with Legal and Ethical obligations as well as contributing to the day-to-day operations of the Firm as an Executive Partner.

cordell icon white

Why Hire
Cordell & Cordell?

Men hire Cordell & Cordell because the firm’s entire focus is on aggressively championing the rights of men and fathers through divorce. Our attorneys understand how the deck is often stacked against guys in family law and are committed to leveling the playing field by providing the legal guidance and resources needed to give them a fair chance at success.