Managing Marital Property – Do’s and Don’ts


Prenuptial Agreement

Entering into a prenuptial agreement also referred to as a premarital agreement can provide a clear understanding as to who gets what in case the marriage fails.


Keep your records up to date and accurate. This will help in determining the nature of your assets – whether they were obtained prior to the marriage or receive as a gift or inheritance.

Separate property

Make sure that separate property is kept separate throughout the marriage especially if you want to keep it in your family after you are gone.  Never mix the properties you owned before the marriage with the properties obtained during the term of the marriage. Once you mix up both, it may become impossible to separate the two.

Increase in value

Keep in mind that any increase, especially active increase, to the value of a non-marital property will be considered as marital. So the increase in the value will be distributed between the spouses. Active increase is the increase in the value due to actual work such as repainting property or actively managing stocks.


Purchase property that you intend to consider non-martial property by using only non-marital property. For example if you purchased a boat prior to your marriage, it will be your non-marital property but if your spouse contributes to its maintenance, it will lose its status as a non-marital property.

Personal Injury

If you have received personal injury compensation during the marriage, you should keep the money separate if you want it to remain non-marital property. This compensation less the portion that is a reimbursement for lost income or compensation to your spouse for loss of companionship or service will be your and only yours.


Marital Debts

Never pay off a marital debt using your non-marital assets as doing so can cause them to lose the non-marital status.

Non-marital Accounts

Never deposit any income that you earn during the marriage in non-marital accounts as this can result in commingling and the accounts will lose their non-marital status.

Joint bank account

You should not use your non-marital funds to open a joint bank account.

Property owned prior to marriage

Never deal with any property owned prior to marriage without considering the consequences of your actions. Some of your actions can result in property owned before marriage becoming marital property in whole or in part. This can happen if your spouse contributes towards the maintenance or improvement of the non-marital property.


Never assume that the business you owned before marriage will remain non-marital. Your spouse will be entitled to any increase in the value of the business if he or she contributed to the business during the marriage. The contribution can be obvious such as providing some service or subtle like taking care of the home and kids so that you can run the business.

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