One of the more difficult areas in litigated equitable distribution cases is the issue of separate property. When people are first getting married, buying a house, or otherwise combining their lives, they are not planning for a divorce.
Property one owns prior to marriage, whether real property, savings, or retirement is separate, not marital. When you are facing a divorce, knowing what you had at the time of marriage, may be relevant to determine how assets are divided.
For example, if one party had significant savings, or a gift from parents which was used as a down payment to purchase the marital residence, that party may be entitled to a credit when discussing how the equity in the marital residence should be divided. It is not enough to just say the money existed, or the gift occurred. Paperwork, like the closing statement, bank statements, or canceled checks, demonstrating the claim are often required.
If this is going to be an issue in your case, it is helpful to bring it us early so your attorney can take the necessary steps to assist you in tracking down the information.