Protecting premarital assets from a divorce takes a little pre-planning as well as understanding the difference between separate and marital property. Taking the necessary steps to shield your premarital assets before divorce is even on the radar is key to ensuring those assets remain your own separate property.
First, you need to know what constitutes separate property, which includes:
- Property brought into the marriage that was kept separate from marital assets.
- Any gifts received from a third party.
- An inheritance that was kept separate from marital assets.
- Awards from lawsuits.
- Any property designated as separate in a separation or settlement agreement in a divorce.
- Property listed as separate property in a prenuptial agreement.
There are circumstances where separate property can become marital property, making it subject to equal distribution in a divorce. The best ways to prevent this from occurring include:
- Prior to your marriage, execute a prenuptial agreement specifying what property remains yours in case of a divorce.
- Do not mix separate property with marital property. If your separate assets become intertwined with marital assets and subsequently cannot be distinguished from marital assets, they may be subject to equitable distribution.
- Avoid having separate property becoming joint property through transmutation. For example, if you purchase household items or pay your mortgage from your separate account, that account would be considered marital property and would be subject to division by a court.
- If you own a business, be sure you keep it separate by executing a prenuptial agreement or a buy-sell agreement. The rules are different if your spouse is a partner or employee, so be sure you consult with your divorce attorney on the best ways to protect your business in a divorce.
At Murphy & Cistaro, we are not only concerned with your divorce today but also with your quality of life long after your case is over. Your family law issues deserve to be managed with dignity and respect. You can prepare to civilly resolve your divorce, heal, and move on with your life with a legal team that has helped individuals all over New Jersey to heal and prosper. Contact us today for your free consultation.