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Property division is a divorce issue that can take center stage if a couple owns many valuable assets. It is important for Floridians to understand the difference between separate and marital property, and the circumstances in which separate property can lose its separate nature and become marital property.

Separate property

Separate property is that which was owned by either spouse before getting married. For example, if a person owned artwork, an automobile, a boat or other valuable assets in their name only prior to getting married, in general those assets will be left out of the marital estate in a divorce.

In addition, inheritances, if they were received before or after the marriage will also be considered separate property. If a spouse was awarded damages for pain and suffering in a personal injury lawsuit, this will also be considered separate property.

Marital property

Any property accumulated during the course of the marriage will be considered marital property, and thus will be included in the divisible estate. This is true regardless of whose name is on the title. For example, if a couple bought a house while married, but the house is titled only in one spouse’s name, it is still considered marital property.

Commingling

Separate property can be transformed into marital property through commingling. This is when a separate asset is combined with a marital asset in such a way that it becomes impossible to tell what part of the asset is separate and what is marital. In this case, the separate property has commingled and will be considered marital property.

For example, if you owned a home prior to being married, but then used funds from a marital bank account to pay the mortgage, it is possible that house could be considered marital property. Or, if you received an inheritance while married, but deposited it into a joint bank account and used the money to purchase marital property, that inheritance may be considered marital property.

Learn more about property division

Ultimately, property division in Florida can be complicated, especially in a high asset divorce. This post is for educational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Those in Florida who have questions about property division or other divorce issues can explore our firm’s website for further information.