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Marital Property Agreements

Practicing Attorneys: Renee ReadJolene Schnieder, Mark Tyckowski

What is a marital property agreement?

A marital property agreement is an agreement between spouses that generally changes or converts the classification of their property, regardless of when or how it was acquired or where it is located.

What is marital property?

Marital property includes all income and assets that a couple acquires after their “determination date.” A couple’s determination date is the latest of: the date of the couple’s marriage, the date that they both took up residence in Wisconsin, or Jan. 1, 1986.

However, not all property is marital property, and spouses may have individual property. This is usually in the form of an asset or property that was owned before marriage. Property that was a personal gift or inheritance to one spouse is also individual property, regardless of when it was received. To prove that a property is individual, records must be provided to demonstrate that it only belongs to one spouse. Without proof, the law presumes that all property owned by spouses is marital property and belongs to spouses equally.

Spouses with individual property should also be aware that during a marriage, individual and marital property can be intertwined. The law then presumes that this mixed property is marital property, unless records can demonstrate that some portion of that property is individual. Therefore, if you wish to maintain an item as individual property, you must have records to trace ownership.

Should my spouse and I consider a marital property agreement?

There are a number of reasons why a married couple may decide to enter into a marital property agreement. The agreement may be useful if you an your spouse disagree on credit matters, or if you both wish to avoid the marital property system and you wish to keep some or all of your property as separate. In contrast, one may wish to reclassify some or all of their individual property as marital property. These agreements allow spouses to restructure or change the way that their property is viewed under the law.

A marital property agreement allows a couple to either opt into or opt out of the marital property laws of the state. To determine if this would be beneficial for you, and your spouse, depends on a variety of factors. An attorney will be able to decide on the best option and draft an agreement.

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Divorce and property division issues are always complex. Our lawyers can help resolve your issues efficiently and cost-effectively. Call our Neenah office at 920-725-2601 or use our online form to make an appointment.