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Do You Have to Split Pre-Marital Asserts?

In a Rhode Island Divorce, marital assets are equitably divided. So are marital debts. Marital assets are those acquired during the marriage and it does not matter if the asset is in joint names or only the name of one of the parties.

However, a more analysis is required when talking about non-marital property. Generally, non-marital property includes (1) assets acquired before the marriage (pre-marital) as long as they have not been co-mingled (put into joint names); (2) inheritances received during the marriage, as long as those assets have not been co-mingled and (3) gifts received during the marriage (again, as long as they have not been co-mingled).

So, a lesson to be learned is to be thoughtful before putting your spouse's name on a pre-marital asset or a gift or inheritance received during the marriage.

When one party owned the marital home before the marriage and needs to refinance the outstanding mortgage, often the lender may ask to have the property placed in both parties' names so that the lender feels more comfortable. The owner of this pre-marital asset should not agree without a critical look at the serious ramification that occur from changing a pre-marital asset into a joint asset. Often, the pre-marital owner may be able to support the refinance on his/her own income and should not need to have both parties on the loan and mortgage.

There are some special considerations regarding pre-marital assets. If one spouse had a premarital asset worth $100,000 on the date of the marriage and at the time of divorce, the value has increased to $130,000, the other spouse may have an equitable interest in the appreciation of $30,000. One may need to analyze one spouse's marital efforts that lead to the appreciation in value.

When dividing retirement plans including pensions, 401(k)'s or 403(b)'s, it is imjperative to get the value as of the day before the marriage, for that would provide the information as to the pre-marital portion of the retirement plan.  

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