How do courts decide which property to give each spouse during divorce? As a general rule, you get to keep your part of non-marital properties while the marital properties are divided between you and your spouse. When it comes to asset division during divorce, all properties are assumed to be marital assets except for:
Any property you acquired before marriage is your own property; you don't have to divide it with your spouse (unless you wish to be charitable). However, it may be a partial marital property if you purchased it on loan before you got married, but continued to pay off the loan after you got hitched.
Consider a case where you buy a house on mortgage as a single person and continue to make the repayments after marriage. In this case, the property is partially marital and partially non-marital, and computation will have to be done to determine their respective percentages.
Property Excluded By a Prenuptial Agreement
An asset acquired after marriage may become a non-marital property if it is indicated thus in the prenuptial agreement. Of course, such a classification only stands if the agreement is legally binding. For example, your prenuptial agreement may exclude family heirlooms even if you inherit them after marriage.
Income from Non-marital Properties
Any incomes you derive from your non-marital assets are also yours to keep. Of course, this will only be the case if you keep their proceeds separate from the marital assets. For example, if you have a non-marital piece of real estate, and you deposit its rental incomes into your joint account, then the incomes become marital properties.
Individual gifts are non-marital property irrespective of who gifts them to you. Consider a case where some parents gift their son-in-law a sports car as a present for being a good husband to their daughter. In this case, the car becomes a non-marital property. However, if they give the car to both parents (a family car), then both of them have valid claims to it should they decide to divorce.
If you receive any assets as settlement awards, then they also become your personal properties. For example, if you are injured in a car accident and you get a personal injury settlement, then this becomes a non-marital property. Another example is workers compensation awards, but it also depends on your state's laws and regulations on asset division.
These are just a few examples, but there may be more depending on your jurisdiction. If you don't want to divide a particular asset with your spouse, then you should consult your lawyer to see where it may fall. For more help, try contacting professionals at law offices to ask questions and learn more.