Dividing property in a divorce can be complex. It can get especially complicated when separate and marital property come into play.

Property means more than a home and the furniture in it. In a divorce, assets that can be divided can include bank accounts, investments, stock options, mortgages, retirement benefits— and even debts. When determining how property should be divided, courts will look at whether the property is considered as separate or marital. 

In Wisconsin, only gifted or inherited property which has been kept separate is considered non-marital. Parts of a personal injury settlement may also be non-marital depending on the circumstances. Otherwise, there is a presumption that all property and debt in a marriage is marital and that it should be divided equally between the parties. 

Separate property

If property is considered to be “separate,” it cannot be divided in the event of a divorce in Wisconsin. 

Property can also remain separate if a couple signs a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. While prenuptial agreements are signed prior to marriage, postnuptial agreements are signed after a couple is already married. These agreements can help stipulate any property that will not be subject to division in the event of a divorce.

Marital property

On the other hand, marital property can be divided during a divorce. Generally, this includes property that was attained during the marriage.

Wisconsin is a community property state, which means courts will attempt to divide assets equally. However, in some cases, Wisconsin courts will consider other factors when dividing marital assets. These factors might include:

  • How long the couple was married
  • Whether one spouse brought in substantial assets
  • What each spouse contributed during the marriage

Divorces can be complicated, especially when the division of assets is involved. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can help keep assets separate and stipulate which assets to consider as marital property in the event of a divorce. It can be beneficial to consult with an experienced divorce attorney to help protect your assets in the event of a divorce.