Uniform Marital Property Act Law and Legal Definition

The Uniform Law Commissioners promulgated the Uniform Marital Property Act (UMPA) in 1983. This act encourages sharing by spouses of property acquired during marriage by creating a class of property in which husband and wife have an equal interest. UMPA creates a class of property called the property of the marriage, and not the property of individuals. That class of property is made up of all property of the spouses, except certain specific exceptions that remain individual property. If there is a question about specific property, whether it is marital or individual property, the Act raises the presumption that it is marital property. The presumption forces any party claiming property as individual property to bring sufficient evidence to overcome the presumption. Thus, UMPA explicitly favors the family and a finding of marital property.

Each spouse has an undivided present one-half interest in the marital property. Each spouse owns his or her own individual property. Further, marital property interests exist notwithstanding title as evidenced by title documents or otherwise. A spouse has his or her interest in marital property, even if that spouse's name appears nowhere on any title documents. Between spouses, UMPA imposes responsibilities and inhibits the mishandling of marital property. All marital property must be managed in good faith for the marriage. If it is not, the injured spouse may recover from the spouse responsible for the injury. UMPA, in addition, establishes creditors' rights. Any obligation for the family may be settled out of marital property and the individual property of the spouse incurring the obligation. UMPA merely establishes marital property and makes only those adjustments in the general incidents of property ownership to do so. It does not affect the actual distribution of marital property at divorce or death.

This act is now regarded by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws as a model act, instead of a uniform act, and so it may be known as the Model Marital Property Act.