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Separate versus marital property: not always a quick, easy call

Readers across Arkansas who occasionally visit our family law blog at the Little Rock-based law firm of Robert, Oswalt & Associates will duly note that every once in awhile we spotlight an article or theme relevant to divorce-related property division.

We submit that the reasons for periodically addressing that topic are clear enough, given the central importance attaching to asset identification and distribution in many divorces. It is simply the case that, in many decouplings, nothing is more important than a proper accounting and division of marital property.

Regarding that determination, the judicial recognition of what comprises so-called marital assets (as distinguished from non-marital or separate property) is key, for marital property alone is subject to division between soon-to-be exes in a divorce.

One might think that sorting property into two distinct piles should not be an overly complex task.

In truth, though, the chore can often be both onerous and highly complicated. As we note on a page of our website devoted to asset division and distribution, "Many complex property division issues arise in a dissolution proceeding."

And it is frequently the case that much of that complexity owes squarely to murkiness surrounding the proper separate-or-marital designation that must be made and that will affect asset distribution, sometimes in a materially important way.

We point on our website to one decidedly important reason why property division can often involve tough calls, with that reason being implicitly noted in our statement that, "Property acquired during a marriage is typically defined as marital property."

That word "typically" could easily be underscored and set off in bold, because is denotes that some assets that a couple acquires following wedlock turn out not to be marital property but, rather, property hold separately by just one spouse.

And that can unquestionably make for dire complications in a divorce proceeding.

We will spotlight a recently decided and most interesting family law case involving the "non-marital or marital" question in our next blog post.

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