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What is marital property?

When couples get married, they often co-mingle their property. This means that they often share money, real estate, personal belongings and other assets completely. They both take ownership over the assets and use them for their benefit and for the benefit of the family. However, when a Rhode Island couple decides to separate this arrangement cannot continue. Instead, the couple must split their property. This can leave couples struggling to decide what property is marital and what property is separate.

Under Rhode Island law, marital property is split equitably and separate property is given to its owner during a divorce. Separate property is property that was owned by one of the spouses prior to the marriage. A gift, inheritance or other property given to one of the spouses -- and only meant for that spouse -- during the marriage is also separate property. However, if separate property is mixed with marital property then it can also convert to marital property. In order to remain separate is must stay separate.

Marital property, on the other hand, is all money earned by either spouse during the marriage. This includes all the couples income and savings. Additionally, anything purchased with money earned during the marriage is considered marital property. And, again, separate property that has been mingled with marital property is also considered marital property.

These distinctions are important for people to keep in mind as they consider divorce. While this blog post cannot help to determine which category a particular piece of property falls into, an attorney can help make these property division distinctions clearer. Understanding how property will be divided can be essential for couples as they move forward from a marriage.

Source:, "Who Owns What in Marital Property?," accessed Nov. 23, 2014

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