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Is all property divided in a divorce?

While there are many difficult topics to negotiate when filing for legal separation or divorce in New York, dividing marital property may be one of the most overwhelming. Many people become attached to certain items throughout their marriage, and it can be hard to let go of these treasured objects.

Whether you negotiate property division through mediation or you allow the courts to determine who receives what in the final settlement, it is helpful to know how the court divides property and what you may be able to keep without having to divide.

What is separate property?

Separate property may remain with the original owner and is not required to be divided in a divorce settlement. According to the New York State Senate, separate property includes the following:

  • Inheritance money
  • Property owned prior to the marriage
  • Personal injury compensation
  • Gifts given to you by a third party

Any property purchased with inheritance money or money obtained from an increase in property value from separate property can remain yours as well.

How do you keep your property separate?

It is important to keep in mind that separate property must remain isolated from marital property in order to stay solely in your name. For example, if you own property prior to becoming married, you will want to keep the property title in your name. If you amend the title to add your spouse’s name, the property then becomes marital and divisible in the divorce settlement.

Furthermore, you want to avoid mixing your inheritance money with marital property as doing so may risk your ability to keep the money in the settlement. If you deposit the money in a joint bank account or purchase a home with the money and add both names on the title, the assets lose their separate status.