What Is Non-Marital Property in Wisconsin?

Non-marital property is not divided by the Wisconsin family divorce court. In Wisconsin, non-marital property includes:

  • Property that a spouse owned prior to the determination date. Again, typically the determination date is the marriage date.
  • Debts that a spouse had prior to the marriage date
  • Property that a spouse received by gift – before or after they were married. Gifts must be from someone other than your spouse.
  • An inheritance received – before or after the marriage date
  • Property either spouse obtains after they separate from each other


Proving Non-Marital Property in Court

Wisconsin presumes that all property is marital property. To prove that property is non-marital, a spouse must have records such as a bill of sale to prove they acquired the property before the determination date. The same logic, the need for a record, applies to non-marital debts.

Non-marital property is also called “separate” property.

Can Non-Marital Property Become Marital Property?

If the non-marital property is used by the couple during the marriage, then the property will switch categories. Non-marital property that is commingled becomes marital property.

For example, if you buy a car before you get married but use marital funds to pay off the loan, then the car becomes marital property and the value must be included in property division.

If you had a personal checking account worth $10,000 prior to the marriage, then:

  • If you keep the personal checking account and don't add any funds to it during the marriage, you can likely claim the $10,000 as non-marital property.
  • If you close out the account and put the funds into a joint account with your spouse, your spouse and you will split the $10,000.

For Immediate help with your family law case or answering any questions please call (262) 221-8123 now!

Can Marital Property Agreements or Prenuptial Agreements Protect Marital Property?

Generally, the answer is yes. In a prenuptial agreement[1]​, two people can agree before they marry how their property will be classified – if they get divorced. This means they can;

  • Identify property and debts they already have.
  • Agree that the identified property is non-marital or marital.
  • Agree that commingling the assets does (or does not) change the status of the property from non-marital to marital.
  • Agree how each item of property (and debt) will be handled if they get divorced.

Prenuptial agreements are also called premarital agreements.

The safest way to protect your property is to consult with an experienced Wisconsin family lawyer – either before you get married or as soon as you think the marriage is over. Prenuptial agreements can be modified, with a lawyer's help, during a marriage. Spouses can also agree not to use their prenuptial agreement during the divorce process.

Are you ready to move forward? Call (262) 221-8123 to schedule a strategy session with one of our attorneys.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens to property owned before marriage in Wisconsin?

Property owned before a marriage becomes marital property. In short-term marriages, property from before the marriage can be considered separate property. Separate property is not divided in the property division process. If you want to protect property gained before the marriage you can get a prenuptial agreement

What is considered marital property in WI?

Most assets and debts are considered marital property in Wisconsin. Some of the things that are excluded are inheritances and property excluded by a prenuptial or a postnuptial agreement.

Is Wisconsin a community property or spousal property rights state?

Wisconsin is a community property rights state. This means that most property is split evenly in the property division stage of a divorce. That includes property only in one person’s name and property from before the divorce.

Who gets the house in a divorce in Wisconsin?

Many times, the person who gets the majority of child placement also keeps the marital home. This is because the court wants the children to remain in a place they are comfortable. However, if that person cannot afford to keep the marital home, it could get sold or the other party could pay them out for their half.

How does separate property become marital property?

Separate property can become marital property if it is commingled. Commingling happens when one party shares the property with the other in some way. This could happen by doing anything from putting an inheritance into a shared account to living in a house together.

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