Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer

Keep What’s Yours: Understanding Non-marital Property in Florida

A blog was posted on this site discussing how exactly property is divided under Florida law. A key factor is whether assets are considered “marital property” or “non-marital property.” Only marital assets have to be equitably divided when a couple divorces. This means if your property falls under the “non-marital category,” it will be assigned to you after a divorce.

What Exactly is Non-marital Property?

This type of property includes assets and liabilities acquired prior to getting married. Property acquired during the marriage can also be categorized as non-marital property, but there must be evidence sufficient to support the contention that your spouse had no involvement in the acquisition or development of those assets and/or liabilities in the course of your marriage.

The property listed below typically falls under the category of non-marital assets. However, if you change the title to any of these assets to include your spouse during your marriage, they will likely fall under the marital asset category.

– Assets excluded as marital property under a prenuptial agreement;

– Assets you owned individually prior to the marriage and continued to own individually that retain value (e.g., your car, a set of collector’s baseball cards, etc.);

– Assets or liabilities you acquired via an exchange of a non-marital asset (e.g., you traded in your old car for a newer vehicle and kept the title in your name only);

– An inheritance specifically bequested to you; and

Income generated from a non-marital asset during your marriage (but watch out – if you use the income to purchase marital assets or it was made available to your spouse, it could be deemed a marital asset);

The same analysis applies to liabilities as well. So, for example, if you took out student loans prior to your marriage and serviced those loans individually during the course of your marriage, you’re stuck with paying the remainder of the debt and cannot have your ex-spouse assume a portion of that debt.

How Non-marital Property Can Be “Converted” to Marital Property

Your assets prior to marriage can actually be converted into marital property and be put at risk of having to be divided with your ex-spouse. Conversion of non-marital to marital may occur if you re-title non-marital property from just your name into both of your names collectively

Converting non-marital to marital assets also occurs when you commingle assets and/or liabilities. Commingling simply means combining assets to the point where the value of the assets becomes indistinguishable as non-marital or marital. A common example is a joint savings account or joint checking account. Just because you deposited $5,000 into the account at the beginning of your marriage doesn’t mean you get that money back after your divorce. It will likely be considered a marital asset.

Another way non-marital property winds up becoming marital property is when the value of the property becomes enhanced because of the “labor or financial contribution” of your spouse during the course of the marriage. Let’s say you have a savings account worth $10,000 that you brought into the marriage. The account is in your name. However, your spouse deposits an additional $15,000 into the account during the course of your marriage. That $15,000 and the interest accrued in the account is now considered marital property.

Time to Speak to a Florida Divorce Lawyer

As you can see, the division of property can become quite complex and you need an experienced advocate to help fight to keep as much of your property as possible. Contact the office of Vanessa L. Prieto in Fort Lauderdale to set up a time to talk about your divorce.