In a Rhode Island divorce, marital property is divided equitably. As a general rule, any item that is obtained or shared during a marriage is considered to be a joint asset. There are steps that you can take before marrying to protect assets that you bring into a marriage.
Tips for protecting separate property
A prenuptial agreement can stipulate which items are considered to be separate property and which items are joint property. Furthermore, keeping thorough records can also help distinguish a separate asset, such as a gift or an inheritance, from a marital asset, such as a home or car. You should also be aware that any appreciation of separate assets could be considered a joint asset.
For instance, if a home that you owned before getting married is worth $20,000 more after it was remodeled, that increase may be subject to division in a divorce. Your spouse may have a strong claim to a portion of this appreciation if he or she contributed to the project in any way.
How to avoid commingling your assets
If funds from a separate bank account are used to acquire or improve a marital asset, that money may become a marital asset. The same may be true if the funds are used to pay off a joint debt. Furthermore, do not fund a joint account with separate funds even if you can keep track of how that money is used.
The property division process is generally designed to help an individual walk away from a marriage in a reasonably strong financial situation. An attorney may help you negotiate a favorable settlement by reviewing a prenuptial agreement. He or she may also review any records that may verify your claim that an asset is separate property.