Commingling Marital Assets
Dividing marital property often takes centerstage during divorce proceedings, especially when a couple each owned unique or valuable assets at the time of their marriage. This is because Florida is an equitable division state, where all marital assets must be divided fairly upon a couple’s divorce. For this reason, how property is classified, whether marital or separate, becomes an extremely important part of the property division process. Unfortunately, classifying marital property can be complicated. In fact, it is even possible for property that was initially categorized as separate to become marital through the process of commingling, so if you have decided to divorce, you should speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale property division lawyer who can advise you.
What Qualifies as Separate Property?
Florida law defines separate property as the assets that a person brings into a marriage. Marital property, on the other hand, is made up of assets that were acquired by either party during the course of the marriage. A piece of valuable artwork owned by one of the parties before marriage, for example, would qualify as separate property and so need not be shared with a former spouse upon divorce. A home purchased by a couple after the marriage was finalized, on the other hand, would belong to both parties and would need to be divided if the union was terminated. This is true regardless of whose name was actually on the title or deed.
While this definition may seem relatively simple, the reality of determining what is separate property and what is marital property can be complicated. There are, for example, a few instances where property that would normally be considered marital is actually classified as separate. Inheritances received by only one spouse, for instance, are considered separate property, even when inherited during marriage. Property designated as separate in a pre or postnuptial agreement will also remain separate.
What is Commingling?
It is also possible for separate property to be transformed into marital property through a process known as commingling. This occurs when a separate asset is combined with marital property in such a way that determining which part of the asset is separate and which is marital becomes impossible. If, for example, one spouse owned a home prior to marriage, but later used funds from a shared bank account to pay the mortgage or make repairs, that property would most likely qualify as marital and so need to be divided upon divorce. Similarly, those who receive inheritances during their marriage (an asset that would usually qualify as separate property) can become marital property if they are deposited into a joint bank account and used to buy other assets.
Here to Help with Your Property Division-Related Questions and Concerns
To speak with an experienced Florida property division attorney about how marital assets are divided upon divorce, including whether some of your own assets may have been commingled, please reach out to Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. You can set up a free consultation with a member of our legal team by calling 954-945-7591 or by sending us an online message.