Property Distribution

Case Study: Marital assets

Facts: Sam, an employee of a major national corporation, had a retirement account through the company which he opened five years before he was married. He continued to contribute through the 15 years of his marriage. When he initiated divorce proceedings he wanted to know if the retirement account remained his property.

Action: The question was whether his first five years of pre-marital retirement contributions were deemed to be marital property subject to 50/50 distribution because the account is “passive” in nature – meaning it just grows on its own with no one doing anything to it.

Result: The entire account, except for his contributions during the first five years before he was married, was divided 50-50.

Case Study: Inherited money

Facts: Judy inherited $2.5 million from her mother and deposited it in a separate bank account. Periodically she withdrew money which she deposited into the joint account to pay bills.

Action: What part of the inheritance is just hers?

Result: Because she had always kept the inherited money in a separate individual account, the money in that separate individual account remained just hers. The money Judy deposited in the joint account to pay bills was marital property to be split 50-50 (if there were unused funds in the account) at the time of the divorce.