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Splitting up Marital Property

Divorce is a formal separation of a married couple. Splitting up marital property is separation and distribution of the couple’s property and assets according to the separate property system or the community property system.

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The Law

Traditionally there have been two distinct legal systems in our country. One system is known as the community property system and the other known as the separate property system. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages. Things I should know before I take a divorce.

Separate Property System

The separate property system is widely adapted by most of the States, though it does have its variations from State to State. The separate property system is the legal framework for 42 States. In these separate property states, each spouse has the right to only retain the property he or she has earned or inherited while still bound in marriage. Additionally, the law views them each as the sole owner of his or her earnings. More importantly, each spouse is entitled by law, to do as they please with their individual earnings. Whether they acquire credit or invest they are solely responsible. This makes the property and finances of each separate from the other.

For example, a wife who is a full or part time homemaker, and who has substantially less income while running her home, has no right to her husband's earnings. Recently, a modification in the traditional separate property system has been the allocation of "equitable distribution."

Community Property System

The community property system is part of the State law for 8 different States. The community property system is based on the assumption that both spouses have equal contribution of finance and property during the course of the marriage. This framework takes into account that the wife, even if a homemaker has contributed through her duties at home as they are equally vital. In a community property system, the earnings of both spouses, along with the property and assets are regarded as part of the union that is decreed during marriage. However, any property gained through inheritance or by receiving of any gifts is treated separately.

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