Marital vs. Separate Property
Before any property and assets can be divided, the court must determine which property is separate and which is considered marital property. Separate property is generally not eligible for distribution in a divorce case, and may remain with the original owner. Any property or assets that a spouse owned prior to the marriage may be considered separate property. A gift or inheritance that was given to either party before, during or after the marriage is also separate in most cases. If separate property or assets are commingled with marital property, then the property may be viewed as marital and therefore eligible for division. For example, an inheritance that is deposited into a joint bank account may become marital.
Marital property includes everything that was accumulated during the course of the marriage. This includes 401k plans, pensions, stocks, houses, cars, artwork, jewelry and even Social Security benefits.