When going through a divorce, dividing assets may be a tough task to tackle with your ex-spouse. 

Knowing what items count as separate property can help both of you amicably choose what to keep and what to share. 

Definition 

Items that legally belong to only you after a divorce are separate property. These items may be large or small, but they are not considered ones that you must share in an arrangement as part of the divorce. If your debt is separate property, it is also likely you will have to pay off the majority of it if you accumulated it before marriage. 

In contrast, it is a requirement to split marital property with your spouse. If there is a contestment over who should be in possession of the asset, you may even need to come to an agreement in court. Not all states have the same rules regarding marital or separate property, so it is important to know how your state’s laws impact your divorce. 

What qualifies 

There are some qualifications for separate property that do not exist for joint property. For example, the things you keep after a divorce could be items owned before the marriage began, gifts only to you, or legal awards from a personal injury. Anything bought and shared by you and your spouse likely does not qualify. 

Cars and houses are more complex items. You could partially own a car if both spouses paid off part of the debt while married. The amount of usage of an item also helps show what spouse it should belong to. If your spouse did not use an item for the length of your marriage, then you may have a stronger claim to it in the divorce.