In a previous post I touched on separate property by stating that separate property is property that was acquired before marriage, by gift, devise or descent and some portions of personal injury settlements. Today I will discuss these categories in more detail.
First though, the importance of defining separate property – any property that is one spouse’s separate property CANNOT be awarded to the other spouse. I repeat it CANNOT be awarded to the other spouse. Therefore, it is crucial to speak with your attorney about any property that you believe is your separate property.
Now to discussing the different categories of separate property:
Before marriage – This is generally separate property, even if you both acquired it together, however, there are some exceptions.
Gifts, Devise or Descent – Any property acquired by gift, devise or descent is that person’s separate property.
Personal Injury Settlements – If you or your spouse is involved in an accident and receive a settlement as a result, a portion of that settlement is separate property. The easiest way to work through this is to state that the portion of the settlement that reimburses anything you incurred as a result of the accident such as lost wages, medical bills, damage that had to be fixed is community property. The portion of the settlement that encompasses pain and suffering is separate property.
No matter the situation, ALL PROPERTY is presumed to be COMMUNITY PROPERTY unless you can prove to the court that the property is in fact separate property. Therefore, it is crucial for you to discuss your situation with your attorney to determine the best course of action in your case.