What Is Marital Property?
When it comes to divorce in Florida, there are specific laws that govern what does and does not qualify as marital property. This is an important distinction because under state law, it is only marital assets and not separate property that must be divided equitably upon divorce. Read on to learn more about what qualifies as marital property.
Defining Marital Property
Florida statutory law defines marital property as any asset that is acquired, by either spouse, during the course of a marriage. Non-marital property, or separate property, on the other hand, are those assets that each spouse owned before the marriage. There are, however, a few exceptions to this rule. Some assets, for instance, even when acquired during a marriage can still qualify as separate property when it comes to division upon divorce. This includes inheritances left to only one spouse and non-inter-spousal gifts, as well as any assets defined as non-marital in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. These kinds of assets will remain in the sole possession of the spouse to whom they were originally given, unless they were commingled, a process we discuss a bit later on in this post.
Examples of Marital Property
Marital property encompasses any assets obtained by either spouse during the course of their marriage. This includes:
- Real estate;
- Income earned by either party;
- Investment properties or assets;
- Retirement benefits;
- Artwork, antiques, and collectibles;
- Pets; and
- Personal possessions.
These kinds of assets, as long as they were purchased after a marriage was formalized, must be divided in an equitable, or fair manner, upon divorce. In fact, even assets that technically qualify as separate property because they were acquired before a marriage may still end up needing to be split up if they were “commingled” during the marriage. This occurs when a separate asset becomes a marital asset as a result of its use by both parties. If, for instance, one spouse owned a home before the marriage, but then both parties used their income to remodel it and used the property as their primary residence, then there’s a good chance that the asset will qualify as marital in nature and need to be divided. Similarly, an inheritance given to only one spouse can become marital property if it was used by both spouses, or placed in a joint bank account. Stock options and other investments that were purchased with separate funds, but held in the same investment portfolio would also most likely be defined as marital assets.
Speak with an Experienced Fort Lauderdale Property Division Lawyer Today
Categorizing an asset as either marital or non-marital property can quickly become complicated, especially when the parties in question were married for many years. In these cases, it’s best to consult with a qualified and skilled divorce lawyer who can help ensure that your property settlement is fair. To learn more about how an experienced Fort Lauderdale property division lawyer could help with your own divorce, call Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 today or reach out to us via online message.