Home > The Legal Process > Marital and Non-marital Assets

Marital and Non-marital Assets

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 25 Apr 2018 |
 
Marriage Divorce Assets Non-marital

Nobody says ‘I do’ thinking that their marriage won't last. However, it is a sad fact that a large number of marriages do fail, with current figures somewhere between 30 and 40 per cent.

When couples decide to divorce, there can often be bitter wrangling over the financial and proprietary aspects of the marriage.

Generally, if one person has control over the finances during the marriage, the other party will be at a considerable disadvantage when it comes to the divorce proceedings.

Every marriage concerns an element of interdependence but when a couple divorces there is a need to divide assets, money and other property. However, these are broadly divided into two categories, ‘marital’ and ‘non-marital’ assets.

What Are Marital and Non-Marital Assets?

If you have assets that you owned before the marriage, such as money or property that you have inherited, payouts from personal injury awards or other legal settlements, or gifts that you receive during the marriage that were not intended as ‘family’ gifts, these are non-marital assets.

For example, you as an individual inherit a painting that you then sell at auction. If you deposit the proceeds into a joint bank account, or spend some or all of the money on your spouse or joint assets, this property then becomes marital property. There are ways to identify and track liquidated non-marital assets, but these procedures are seldom straightforward.

How to Protect Your Assets

In order to protect your non-marital assets from being counted as marital, always remember to keep them separate. If you are not yet married, consider talking to your future spouse about the assets that you both have and what you both intend to keep as your own. Although it’s not exactly romantic, it can help to avoid considerable emotional wrangling and bitterness in the future if the marriage fails.

Stay Credit Worthy

Keeping your own assets separate in a marriage is particularly important if you are at a financial disadvantage, e.g. if you are not working, are working but earn considerably less than your spouse, or if you are at home caring for children. Some spouses, usually wives, can rely solely on their husband’s means all their married lives and when it comes to divorce they can discover that they are barely credit worthy.

As a result it is vitally important that you retain a good credit rating, so that if you find yourself single again you are able to support yourself and obtain credit from lending institutions. The easiest way to do this is to have a credit card in your sole name. However, it is equally important to maintain your payments on this account, as a bad credit rating is as bad, if not worse, than having no credit history at all. Also, make sure that you are named on all the household accounts.

Keep a Record

Although it may seem cynical, it is also wise to make sure you keep yourself up to date as to the extent of your and your spouse’s assets from time to time. Make sure you have copies of proof of ownership, as in the event of a divorce these can go ‘missing.’

Finally, if you are on the brink of divorcing your spouse, make sure that you close any joint accounts immediately. The last thing you want is to be subsidising your spouse (and perhaps directly or indirectly their legal fees) after you have separated.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Wronged - Your Question:
I won a lot of money 6 years ago and bought my home outright. I then got married. He has been found to be having an affair since.Would he be entitled to half of everything?

Our Response:
If you won the money and bought your home pre-marriage, it may be classed as a non-marital asset and more so because the marriage has been short.
DivorceResource - 26-Apr-18 @ 3:16 PM
lee - Your Question:
Hi ive been out of the marital home for three weeks now on bail so icannot attend property untill the date I go back to the police station in the meantime ive just found out that my wife has left the marital home and took all furniture evrything basically has gone the house though were rented can she do this without my knowing.

Our Response:
If you wish to object, your only recourse would be to do so legally either through the small claims court or through court. You may wish to seek legal advice if you wish to pursue her for rent.
DivorceResource - 26-Apr-18 @ 2:21 PM
I won a lot of money 6 years ago and bought my home outright. I then got married. He has been found to be having an affair since. Would he be entitled to half of everything?
Wronged - 25-Apr-18 @ 11:14 PM
Hi ive been out of the marital home for three weeks now on bail so icannot attend property untill the date I go back to the police station in the meantime ive just found out that my wife has left the marital home and took all furniture evrything basically has gone the house though were rented can she do this without my knowing.
lee - 24-Apr-18 @ 5:04 PM
divorce129 - Your Question:
Hello,My ex and I were married for 8 years and have been separated since last 4 years. I had approached her for completing the divorce process with an offer for splitting equally all assets earned till separation because those constitute real assets. However she is also asking for a share of assets that I have earned post separation. I have earned more assets than she has in the period leading to separation and I want to ring fence them. Please could you advise if this is possible?

Our Response:
Much depends upon your own personal circumstances and that of your family. The non-matrimonial origin of a pre-marital or post-marital finances will not override a needs-based claim. As a rule, non-matrimonial assets can be shared if the money is required to meet the needs of the family as a whole, especially where children are concerned. You may wish to seek legal advice to see what might this apply to you individual case.
DivorceResource - 24-Apr-18 @ 2:38 PM
Hello, My ex and I were married for 8 years and have been separated since last 4 years. I had approached her for completing the divorce process with an offer for splitting equally all assets earned till separation because those constitute real assets. However she is also asking for a share of assets that I have earned post separation. I have earned more assets than she has in the period leading to separation and I want to ring fence them. Please could you advise if this is possible?
divorce129 - 21-Apr-18 @ 2:52 AM
Can she! - Your Question:
I will try to make a long story short. I have been with my now ex a total of 10 years. About 3 years ago we split up and she moved back to Australia. Within 6 months she came back to England to settle down and have a family with me. While we where separated my dad gave me a deposit for my 1st home and a bought a house (95%mortage). In her time back in the country she has spent about £5000 on a few minor changes to the house bye (her choice). We had a lovely baby girl together but unfortunately a few month ago we separated again then she went back to Australia with our daughter (without my legal consent) I have taken legal action to try get my daughter returned, but because of this she now believes that she can make me either sell my house to pay her the money back for the home improvements or take legal action to make me pay her back! I have also spent about the same on home improvements since my purchase. We where never married. she refers to the term “defacto”. any advice would be appreciated thanks

Our Response:
If you cannot agree between you, then it would mean that either one of you could take the matter to court in order to come to a resolution. However, court will cost. Therefore, if you can come to an agreement to reimburse your ex her money, that will be far better than letting a court make a decision. If your ex has put money into the house, then she has a right to try to claim this back.
DivorceResource - 20-Apr-18 @ 12:35 PM
Ann - Your Question:
I have been married for six years now, my husband owns some buy to let properties before we got married and a couple after marriage. We have a 2 year old daughter and he has put us out of the house we lived in which was one of the buy to lets, I have been taking care of our daughter financially since 2016 will I be entitled to any of the buy to let properties if I divorce him.

Our Response:
Yes, if you are married and have a child to your husband, then you will have a claim on divorce. You may wish to seek legal advice.
DivorceResource - 19-Apr-18 @ 2:29 PM
I have been married for six years now, my husband owns some buy to let properties before we got married and a couple after marriage. We have a 2 year old daughter and he has put us out of the house we lived in which was one of the buy to lets, I have been taking care of our daughter financially since 2016 will i be entitled to any of the buy to let properties if i divorce him.
Ann - 17-Apr-18 @ 6:49 PM
ROSIE - Your Question:
I OWNED MY HOUSE WITH A VERY SMALL MORTGAGE 10 YEARS BEFORE WE MARRIED. HE NEVER PAID THE MORTGAGE HOWEVER HE DID GIVE ME £30k AND I USED IT TO PAY CAPITAL OFF MY MORTGAGE. WE HAVE BEEN MARRIED 19 YRS BUT HAVE LIVED SEPARATELY FOR 8 YEARS. AFTER THE BIRTH OF OUR DAUGHTER 17 YEARS AGO MY HUSBAND DID NOT WANT ME TO WORK SO I HAVE, BEEN A STAY AT HOME MUM. HE IS IN TOTAL CONTROL OF FINANCES, I HAVE NO ACCESS TO HIS INCOME AND HE HAS NOT ALLOWED ME A JOINT ACCOUNT WITH HIM. CAN HE FORCE ME TO SELL MY HOUSE - HE SAYS HE WANTS 50%. THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP AND ADVICE

Our Response:
You would have to seek legal advice regarding this, as you don't say whether you are actually separated, or still in a relationship. However, if you are still married, then your husband's income (regardless of whether it is in your name or not or regardless of whether you work or not), is still theoretically considered jointly yours, as is his pension (should he have one). If you apply for a divorce and a financial settlement, then your estate will be divided as to each other's needs. As much as he has a claim on the house, you too have a claim on his assets, savings and income. Trying to work out a financial agreement when all your joint finances are taken into consideration is the best way forward. However, if you cannot, then arbitration or a court will make sure your husband reveals his finances which will also be taken into consideration.
DivorceResource - 17-Apr-18 @ 10:15 AM
I OWNED MY HOUSE WITH A VERY SMALL MORTGAGE 10 YEARS BEFORE WE MARRIED.HE NEVER PAID THE MORTGAGE HOWEVER HE DID GIVE ME £30k AND i USED IT TO PAY CAPITAL OFF MY MORTGAGE.WE HAVE BEEN MARRIED 19 YRS BUT HAVE LIVED SEPARATELY FOR 8 YEARS.AFTER THE BIRTH OF OUR DAUGHTER 17 YEARS AGO MY HUSBAND DID NOT WANT ME TO WORK SO i HAVE, BEEN A STAY AT HOME MUM.HE IS IN TOTAL CONTROL OF FINANCES, I HAVE NO ACCESS TO HIS INCOME AND HE HAS NOT ALLOWED ME A JOINT ACCOUNT WITH HIM.CAN HE FORCE ME TO SELL MY HOUSE - HE SAYS HE WANTS 50% . THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP AND ADVICE
ROSIE - 16-Apr-18 @ 1:04 PM
Trynny - Your Question:
I have just recently left my husband,he is still living in the house.My parents put up half the purchase price of the house, the other half is mortgaged.He has been paying half of everything,also paying my parents back a little every month.They still have 80,000 in the property.will their money be safe? we have signed an agreement to this fact with my husband ,but he now seems to think he might get his hands on it.

Our Response:
If you can prove your parents put in £80,000, should the matter end up in court, then they will be reimbursed the money. However, if it was esteemed to be a loan then what has been paid back either by you and your husband will be taken into consideration. If you are wishing to sell the house and you cannot agree between yourselves then mediation may be an option to consider. Mediation takes place in front of a neutral third party. The mediator has no pre-conceptions and will not force you to make an agreement. You will be assisted in making a decision that you are ready to agree with.
DivorceResource - 12-Apr-18 @ 9:18 AM
I have just recently left my husband,he is still living in the house.My parents put up half the purchase price of the house, the other half is mortgaged.He has been paying half of everything,also paying my parents back a little every month.They still have 80,000 in the property.will their money be safe? we have signed an agreement to this fact with my husband ,but he now seems to think he might get his hands on it.
Trynny - 11-Apr-18 @ 11:35 AM
I will try to make a long story short. I have been with my now ex a total of 10 years. About 3 years ago we split up and she moved back to Australia. Within 6 months she came back to England to settle down and have a family with me. While we where separated my dad gave me a deposit for my 1st home and a bought a house (95%mortage). In her time back in the country she has spent about £5000 on a few minor changes to the house bye (her choice). We had a lovely baby girl together but unfortunately a few month ago we separated again then she went back to Australia with our daughter (without my legal consent) I have taken legal action to try get my daughter returned, but because of this she now believes that she can make me either sell my house to pay her the money back for the home improvements or take legal action to make me pay her back! I have also spent about the same on home improvements since my purchase. We where never married.. she refers to the term “defacto”.. any advice would be appreciated thanks
Can she! - 6-Apr-18 @ 10:18 PM
Can she! - Your Question:
I will try to make a long story short. I have been with my now ex a total of 10 years. About 3 years ago we split up and she moved back to Australia. Within 6 months she came back to England to settle down and have a family with me. While we where separated my dad gave me a deposit for my 1st home and a bought a house (95%mortage). In her time back in the country she has spent about £5000 on a few minor changes to the house bye (her choice). We had a lovely baby girl together but unfortunately a few month ago we separated again then she went back to Australia with our daughter (without my legal consent) I have taken legal action to try get my daughter returned, but because of this she now believes that she can make me either sell my house to pay her the money back for the home improvements or take legal action to make me pay her back! I have also spent about the same on home improvements since my purchase. We where never married. she refers to the term “defacto”. any advice would be appreciated thanks

Our Response:
Your ex can certainly try to get the money back for her investment into your house. You can either argue this in court, or return the money she invested. You can see more via the link here .
DivorceResource - 6-Apr-18 @ 12:22 PM
I bought a house in 2001 on my own and was the sole person on the mortgage until sale. I married in 2006 and in 2010 I sold my home as my husband wanted to a bigger home together. Every bit of equity I had was put down as a deposit on our current home(approx £90k). At the time of the sale the solicitor did ask if I wanted to protect the £90k, foolishly I said no. My husband now wants a divorce, I will be looking after our 2 children. He wants to sell our current home and says a 60/40 spilt of the equity in our current home is what I would be entitled to, I could not afford to live in our home as I have worked part time since the birth of our eldest. As I didn't protect the equity from my previous home, is he entitled to it? He is leaving me in a position where I couldn't afford to buy a similar house to that which I had before we met. He earns significantly more than I do and has said if I did want to buy a house like the one I sold I would just have to go back to work full time, that on top of trying to adjust to being a single parent.Worried sick over how I will support myself and our 2 children. Any advice would be great as I need to minimise the effect the divorce will have on our young children
Mummyto2 - 6-Apr-18 @ 9:21 AM
I will try to make a long story short. I have been with my now ex a total of 10 years. About 3 years ago we split up and she moved back to Australia. Within 6 months she came back to England to settle down and have a family with me. While we where separated my dad gave me a deposit for my 1st home and a bought a house (95%mortage). In her time back in the country she has spent about £5000 on a few minor changes to the house bye (her choice). We had a lovely baby girl together but unfortunately a few month ago we separated again then she went back to Australia with our daughter (without my legal consent) I have taken legal action to try get my daughter returned, but because of this she now believes that she can make me either sell my house to pay her the money back for the home improvements or take legal action to make me pay her back! I have also spent about the same on home improvements since my purchase. We where never married.. she refers to the term “defacto”.. any advice would be appreciated thanks
Can she! - 6-Apr-18 @ 8:50 AM
I will try to make a long story short. I have been with my now ex a total of 10 years. About 3 years ago we split up and she moved back to Australia. Within 6 months she came back to England to settle down and have a family with me. While we where separated my dad gave me a deposit for my 1st home and a bought a house (95%mortage). In her time back in the country she has spent about £5000 on a few minor changes to the house bye (her choice). We had a lovely baby girl together but unfortunately a few month ago we separated again then she went back to Australia with our daughter (without my legal consent) I have taken legal action to try get my daughter returned, but because of this she now believes that she can make me either sell my house to pay her the money back for the home improvements or take legal action to make me pay her back! I have also spent about the same on home improvements since my purchase. We where never married.. she refers to the term “defacto”.. any advice would be appreciated thanks
Can she! - 5-Apr-18 @ 11:00 PM
I will try to make a long story short. I have been with my now ex a total of 10 years. About 3 years ago we split up and she moved back to Australia. Within 6 months she came back to England to settle down and have a family with me. While we where separated my dad gave me a deposit for my 1st home and a bought a house (95%mortage). In her time back in the country she has spent about £5000 on a few minor changes to the house bye (her choice). We had a lovely baby girl together but unfortunately a few month ago we separated again then she went back to Australia with our daughter (without my legal consent) I have taken legal action to try get my daughter returned, but because of this she now believes that she can make me either sell my house to pay her the money back for the home improvements or take legal action to make me pay her back! I have also spent about the same on home improvements since my purchase. We where never married.. she refers to the term “defacto”.. any advice would be appreciated thanks
Can she! - 5-Apr-18 @ 9:32 PM
LAILA - Your Question:
My husband and I broke up a year ago, since then he also lost his job and has not worked since, I had moved out of our owned home as he would not and took the children with me. I was left to manage paying the Mortgage and Rent alone.The only financial thing we share is the mortgage.The house completes next week and he has signed a document to say that he is happy for the funds to go into my personal bank account, the reason being that he does not have an account any longer as he has gotten himself so far in to debt that they shut it down.He has asked me to put the money he is owed (even though I paid the stamp duty and all of the deposit) into his mums account. I am sure he will then file for bankrupt and live off of that money for a while. I have 2 questions: 1. Am I doing anything wrong if I put the funds in her account knowing he will not disclose it?2. He is expecting half of the capital, however I am not able to give him half as I have to clear what I owe so I can ensure I am able to look after the house and children alone, so he will get what is fair and a good sum, but not half- can he take me to court for that?

Our Response:
A bankruptcy petition is an application to the court for someone’s assets to be taken and sold to pay their debts. If your husband doesn't tell the trustee about money received from the sale of the house, he will be committing a criminal offence.You really need to speak directly to your solicitor regarding this matter to see whether this is his problem alone and that you will not be implicated. If you underpay your ex from the agreed amount and your ex wishes to challenge this, then he will have the option to take the matter to court.
DivorceResource - 27-Mar-18 @ 9:44 AM
My husband and i broke up a year ago, since then he also lost his job and has not worked since, i had moved out of our owned home as he would not and took the children with me. I was left to manage paying the Mortgage and Rent alone. The only financial thing we share is the mortgage. The house completes next week and he has signed a document to say that he is happy for the funds to go into my personal bank account, the reason being that he does not have an account any longer as he has gotten himself so far in to debt that they shut it down. He has asked me to put the money he is owed (even though i paid the stamp duty and all of the deposit) into his mums account. I am sure he will then file for bankrupt and live off of that money for a while. I have 2 questions: 1. Am i doing anything wrong if i put the funds in her account knowing he will not disclose it? 2. He is expecting half of the capital, however i am not able to give him half as i have to clear what i owe so i can ensure i am able to look after the house and children alone, so he will get what is fair and a good sum, but not half- can he take me to court for that?
LAILA - 26-Mar-18 @ 10:48 AM
David - Your Question:
I have been separated for over 2 years now and I’ve just recently bought my first property and I am the sole owner of the land registry, when I come to apply for a divorce is my ex entitled to any part of my property?Or because I perchased the property after I had been separated for over 2 years and I am the sole owner am I right in saying she has no entitlement?

Our Response:
Your ex has no entitlement, if the money you used to purchase the property was not money or savings sidelined from your jointly owned marital estate.
DivorceResource - 26-Mar-18 @ 10:38 AM
Deep - Your Question:
HiI was wondering if my partner is entitled to have half of my property that I bought before marriage and , savings in my account if we get divorced.

Our Response:
Much depends upon how long you have been married and whether you have children. If your marriage has been short, then it is more than likely the property will return to you if you owned it prior to marriage. You can see more via the link here .
DivorceResource - 26-Mar-18 @ 9:34 AM
Hi I was wondering if my partner is entitled to have half of my property that i bought before marriage and ,savings in my account if we get divorced.
Deep - 24-Mar-18 @ 6:21 PM
I have been separated for over 2 years now and I’ve just recently bought my first property and I am the sole owner of the land registry, when I come to apply for a divorce is my ex entitled to any part of my property? Or because I perchased the property after I had been separated for over 2 years and I am the sole owner am I right in saying she has no entitlement?
David - 24-Mar-18 @ 3:47 PM
Brenda - Your Question:
I have lived in my property for 25yrs which was jointly owned with the father of my youngest son we split up and a few years later I met my present husband he bought out my ex and put £41,000 in to do so that was 8yrs ago we have now separated is he entitled to half of the property which had a lot of equity in it befor we married

Our Response:
Proportionately, given the short length of the marriage, the length of time you have owned the house and the amount he has put in it is unlikely that he would be entitled to half (if the matter went to court). Much depends upon the value of the house and also whether your husband has helped renovate it/add value. The best thing you can do is to amicably try to decide a proportional split between you. If you cannot resolve the issue mutually, then mediation should be considered next.
DivorceResource - 23-Mar-18 @ 11:50 AM
I have lived in my property for 25yrs which was jointlyowned with the father of my youngest son we split up and a few years later I met my present husband he bought out my ex and put £41,000 in to do so that was 8yrs ago we have now separatedis he entitledto half of the property which had a lot of equity in it befor we married
Brenda - 22-Mar-18 @ 6:30 PM
Gutted.- Your Question:
I was married for 5 years and when my 2nd child was only a few weeks old my husband decided he didn’t want to be married however he refused to move out. I filed for divorce and a occupation order to get him out. I previously owned the property we live in and my husband didn’t pay towards the upkeep, and I also did extensive alterations to the property. He works but up until recently as I am being made redundant has earned considerably less than I do. I am main carer for the 2 children. I put aside some savings to help with impending redundancy and I will get a package however it is looking like I will be left with nothing. He is not paying any maintenance and I no longer have the ability to have a career that I had previously as the main carer, but feel I am going to be left with no means to pay bills etc. How does a situation work when the previous earner is also the primary carer?

Our Response:
You will be able to claim child maintenance from your ex if he is earning and paying tax via HMRC. Unfortunately, as a single parent once child maintenance has been calculated you would be the person responsible for paying the bills on the property you own. You can find out what you may be entitled to in terms of benefits via the Turn2Us link here .
DivorceResource - 19-Mar-18 @ 1:45 PM
Stupid_Tessa - Your Question:
I am a PhD student who has been married for 2.5 years. However, with all the verbal abuse and threat from my partner, we have decided that we can't carry on. I have a fully-paid house under my name and over GBP100,000 in my bank accounts. Save for GBP50,000, the rest are all my assets. I am the one who has been juggling work and study since even before the marriage, and has been paying for all expenses of the house and maintenance. He now wants to know how much he can get off me. Given the short marriage, do I really need to give him 50%?

Our Response:
If you have a short marriage of 2.5 years, it is more than likely you both will leave the marriage with your individual pre-marital assets. If you owned the house prior to marriage and can prove you had the amount of savings prior to marriage then it is likely these will be reverted back to you. Any money assets both of you have accrued in marriage is likely to be split evenly. However, this is only if the matter goes to court. If you can agree between you, it is the best option. Both of you can take advice on this. Only if you have children between you might this agreement differ. As a court will put the best interests of the children first.
DivorceResource - 19-Mar-18 @ 11:26 AM
I am a PhD student who has been married for 2.5 years. However, with all the verbal abuse and threat from my partner, we have decided that we can't carry on. I have a fully-paid house under my name and over GBP100,000 in my bank accounts. Save for GBP50,000, the rest are all my assets. I am the one who has been juggling work and study since even before the marriage, and has been paying for all expenses of the house and maintenance. He now wants to know how much he can get off me. Given the short marriage, do I really need to give him 50%?
Stupid_Tessa - 18-Mar-18 @ 5:50 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the DivorceResource website. Please read our Disclaimer.