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Equitable Distribution of Assets

If an asset is only in one person’s name, is it subject to equitable distribution?

Amy Wechsler’s Answer:

Most assets owned by one party before the marriage will not be subject to equitable distribution unless commingled with marital assets. If you had a bank account in your name before the marriage, kept the money there and never added funds, or added a spouse’s name to the account, the account should be immune from distribution.

When immune assets are commingled with marital assets, the result can be that the entire asset, or a portion of the asset, will be subject to equitable distribution. In a premarital bank account that is used during the marriage to deposit paychecks and pay bills, the original value of the account loses its identity as an immune asset.

How parties acquire an asset during the marriage matters. Income earned from a job during the marriage is a marital asset subject to equitable distribution, even if the person earning it deposits it into a separate account. So title to the asset, by itself, does not determine who gets it.

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