Marriage is a common part of life. Roughly 90% of people will tie the knot by the time they are 50. Sadly, a large percentage of those marriages will end up in divorce.
When going through a divorce for the first time, you will have a lot of questions. Having kids can greatly complicate matters, but even if you never had children together, you will still need to go through property division. You will need to assess all the assets you own together and determine what one person will keep and what another needs to divide. This involves understanding the different forms of property the court considers, so you know what is at stake.
First, you have separate property. These assets are ones where one person owns them entirely. For example, if you owned your car prior to the marriage and had already paid it off in full with your money, then it is separate property. It would be entirely yours without worrying about subjecting it to division. It also includes inheritances and gifts one spouse received prior to the marriage. Property acquired during the marriage can be separate as long as one spouse purchases it with his or her own money and the other spouse never used it.
Next, you have marital property. This includes property the two of you own together. For example, if you both go in together to buy a house, then that house is marital property. You will need to determine who will keep it after the divorce or whether you will want to sell the home and split the money. It is possible for separate property to become commingled during a marriage. You could have made a down payment on a car before marrying, and your spouse helps you pay it off for several years. At this point, it would become marital property.