Florida is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the way property and debts are divided in divorce is determined by what is fair for each spouse. Depending on the details of the divorce, what may be fair to one spouse may leave another with less property than they expected to receive. However, the only property that can be equitably divided is the marital property, or property and debts that have been obtained since the couple got married. Property obtained outside of the marriage is considered separate property and can oftentimes be left out of divorce proceedings.
Is my property separate?
Separate property is also known as non-marital property, which is not subjected to the rules of division in divorce. However, there are some cases where separate property becomes marital property and is not exempted from divorce proceedings.
Property can be considered separate if it was:
- Owned before the marriage
- Gifted by someone else during the marriage
- Received through an inheritance
- Outlined as separate in a premarital agreement
- Income from separate property, as long as it has not been treated as marital property
- Exchanged or purchased with separate property
There are some ways that separate property can become marital property. If one spouse changes the title on property they own to a joint title, it can be considered a gift to their spouse and becomes marital property. In addition, any separate property that increases in value due to marital funds of the involvement of either spouse is considered marital property. An example of this would be the involvement of one spouse in a business owned by the other. The profit made as a result of the spouse's work in the business would be considered marital property. Finally, when separate property is mixed with marital property, such as depositing marital funds into a separate bank account, that property becomes marital property.
In many instances, proving that a property is separate involves detailed financial records and statements ensuring that no crossover of finances occurred to intermingle with marital property. This can usually be complicated and time-consuming, but it also worth it. Proving separate property can help prevent the other spouse from obtaining assets that do not belong to them.
Contact Richard A. Heller, P.A. for help with your case today.