The Difference Between Marital, Nonmarital, and Commingled Property
Florida is considered an equitable distribution state for property when it comes to divorce. This means that all marital property owned by the spouses must be divided equitably, although not always equally, between the couple during the divorce. Because property division is limited only to marital property, it is critical that you understand the difference between marital and nonmarital property. Furthermore, there are certain situations to be aware of when separate property can be converted into marital property through commingling. The knowledgeable Boca Raton divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of David L. Hirschberg can help you review your assets and determine what may be eligible for property distribution in a Florida divorce.
Marital property is all property acquired by either spouse during the course of the marriage. This can include a home, cars, furniture, clothing, jewelry, art, pets, and more. Marital property also includes less tangible property, such as bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, and other financial instruments. Marital property includes both assets and debts acquired during marriage. All marital property in Florida is split equitably, which does not always mean 50/50 between spouses. While the Court begins with the premise of an equal (50/50) division, the property is split according to what the court ultimately deems is equitable given the facts of the case. For example, if one spouse committed adultery and spent marital assets on the mistress, the other spouse may be awarded an unequal distribution to account for the marital property expended on the affair.
Nonmarital property is all property brought into the marriage by each spouse and acquired prior to the wedding. Nonmarital property also includes both assets and debts, and once a marriage is dissolved each spouse walks away with the nonmarital property they brought into the marriage. However, there are a few exceptions where one spouse can acquire nonmarital property during the course of the marriage. This includes gifts made to a single spouse from a source outside of the marriage, as well as inheritances one spouse received during the marriage.
In certain situations, property that began as nonmarital property can be converted into marital property during the marriage through the process of commingling. Commingled property is created when marital assets are used to pay for, maintain, or improve separate property. The most common example of commingled property occurs when one spouse owns a home that the other spouse moves into after the marriage. If marital assets are used to upkeep the home and make improvements, the separate property becomes commingled property. The same can occur in less tangible assets like bank accounts, if one spouse had an account that both spouses begin adding money to after the marriage. Commingled property is examined and distributed on an asset-by-asset basis. Sometimes, a spouse only gains a partial interest in comingled, nonmarital property. Other times, nonmarital property can become so comingled, what once was nonmarital becomes completely marital. Because comingled property can be a complex issue, it is critical that you speak with an experienced divorce attorney about the status of all property prior to entering property distribution negotiations in a divorce.
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To learn more about the differences between marital, nonmarital, and commingled property in a Florida divorce case, call or contact the Law Offices of David L. Hirschberg in Boca Raton today to schedule a consultation of your case.