A major part of any divorce case will likely be the equitable division of assets as directed under Florida law. Not all assets owned by the divorcing spouses will be subject to division, however, as only assets considered to be “marital property” must be divided. Marital property is anything owned by both spouses together while separate property is only owned by one spouse (and the owner spouse will get to keep that property). It is important to take particular care when you are deciding which property is classified as marital and which is separate. If you misclassify certain property, you may lose valuable assets in your divorce to which you otherwise would have been entitled.
Marital assets generally include any property that is acquired by either spouse through the duration of the marriage. This can include real estate, investments, retirement accounts, cash, and personal property. Even if only one spouse purchases a property or opens a retirement account, if he or she uses would-be marital funds to do so, the property will be considered marital regardless of the name(s) on the title. All too often, a spouse believes that because he or she started a business or titled a vehicle in only one name, that the property will be considered separate. In fact, in these situations, any business proceeds or vehicle equity acquired during the marriage should be divided between the spouses. If marital funds were used to acquire the property or if the proceeds of the property/assets would benefit both spouses, the classification should generally be “marital.” This can be confusing in many situations, so it is wise to review all property and asset classification with an experienced divorce attorney who understands Florida law.
What is Separate Property?
Separate property generally includes the following:
- Property or assets acquired prior to the marriage;
- Property acquired as a gift to one spouse (even during the marriage);
- Assets or property received through inheritance (even during the marriage);
- Assets that can be traced to separately-owned property;
- Any property agreed to be separate in a written prenuptial agreement.
The above are not hard and fast rules, however, as situations can arise in which traditionally separate property can become marital property. For example, if one spouse receives money as an inheritance and uses it to purchase a home for the family, including the spouse, that house would likely be considered marital property even though it was acquired through a separate inheritance. Many other complex situations can arise in which the lines between marital and separate property can be blurred and misclassification can easily occur.
Discuss Your Divorce Case With an Experienced Boca Raton Divorce Lawyer
At the law office of divorce attorney Alan R. Burton in Boca Raton, we have helped to ensure that many individuals receive the proper and fair distribution of property and assets that they deserve in divorce. You do not want to risk your spouse taking your rightfully owned property or any other unfair outcome in your divorce, so please call our office for a free consultation today at 954-229-1660.