Can I Keep Gifts in a Divorce?
Generally, the answer is yes. If you have received gifts and they were not things designated for both you and your spouse, they are your property. Some exceptions can apply though, and sometimes things do get messy. This is why it can be wise to consult one of our Morris County, NJ divorce lawyers and look for ways to protect your possessions.
What is Separate Property in a Divorce?
Separate property is something that only belongs to you instead of belonging to you and your spouse. This can include gifts that are given to you and inheritances that are meant just for you.
In many cases, you will have to prove that something was only given to you. Someone may have to say that a gift was meant for you exclusively, or you may have to point to a parent’s will when you need to prove something about your inheritance. This can be an irritating step in the divorce process, but an attorney can help you prove which gifts should be your property and make sure that you are not taken advantage of.
When Can Gifts Not Be Considered Separate Property?
It is important to note that there is one obvious exception to a gift being considered separate property, even when it was specifically gifted to you and only to you. You can make this argument when a third party, someone outside the marriage, gives you a gift, but you cannot make this argument when your spouse gifts you something.
A gift from your spouse, in most cases, is going to be looked at as marital property.
What is Marital Property?
Marital property is seen as the property that both spouses have acquired in the time that they have been married to each other. This is the type of property that needs to be equitably divided when a marriage ends. You have to be careful that separate property of yours, like gifts, does not end up becoming marital property.
Can Separate Property Become Marital Property?
In some cases, a piece of separate property ends up becoming marital property. This can be done intentionally or accidentally, but this can create confusion either way.
This is why you have to be careful with gifts or inheritances. Even if you can prove that they were just given to you, doing something that would make it marital property can cause a headache. For example, maybe you receive a car as a gift to just you, but you title it in both your name and your spouse’s. Another example would be if you took inherited money or a gift of cash and put it in a joint account. These things were just yours, but now it is not so simple.
Talk to an Experienced New Jersey Divorce Attorney
If you are interested in protecting all of your property in a divorce, you need a knowledgeable attorney by your side. Contact Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark and learn more about how we can help you secure a divorce agreement that safeguards your interests.