Question 23 
Who will own property acquired during the relationship?

Default answer in community-property states:
Any property acquired (except by inheritance)
during the course of a marriage belongs equally to both partners.
The most likely asset to consider is a house,
which will be paid for from the earnings of one or both partners.
No matter who paid the most, the house belongs equally to both spouses.

Default answer in separate-property states:
Any property acquired (including by inheritance)
during the course of a marriage belongs to the partner who paid for it
(or received it as a gift).
The situation is somewhat complicated
when both partners paid for the property (or both received the gift).
And the court usually settles such matters based on the divorce law
of that state, which specifies a fair division of common property.

     The courts (in both kinds of states)
have occasionally been called upon to divide intangible assets
acquired during a marriage such as the value of an education.
If either party supported the other by working during a period of education,
the party who was employed might earn an ownership interest
in the 'career asset' of the partner who received the training.

     If one partner stayed home to take care of children,
she or he might have sacrificed seniority and job-experience,
which would otherwise have added to her or his earning power.
One partner might have better insurance coverage from an employer,
which will end for the other partner upon divorce.
One partner might have created 'good will' in a profession or business.
One partner might have built up more pension rights by working.
One partner might have earned more social security benefits.
As the result of employment, etc. during the course of a marriage,
one partner might have greater earning-power after divorce.
The disadvantaged partner might have earned an interest in 'career assets'
by virtue of being supportive and taking care of the home.
If the couple is still young when they divorce,
such 'career assets' might be the main 'wealth' they jointly own.
Courts have begun to recognize that such increases in future earnings
could not have been achieved without the partner who stayed home.
And the courts have begun the difficult task of determining
how much 'career assets' are worth at the time of divorce.

Question 23:    PROPERTY ACQUIRED DURING THE RELATIONSHIP    by James Park    121

Above you have the first page of Question 23 from Designer Marriage.
Five more pages explore several ways of handling property acquired during the relationship.

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Designer Marriage: Write Your Own Relationship Contract

Created April 9, 2009; Revised

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