Differentiating Between Marital and Non-Marital Assets
One of the most contentious aspects of a divorce is determining how the property gets divided. During the marriage, you spend years amassing your belongings and growing attached to them. When the court makes you give them away, especially to someone who may have betrayed you, it can be a hard pill to swallow. Instead of leaving the separation of property up to the courts, many divorcing couples try to mediate the situation. When taking on this task, it is helpful to know how the state of Florida views various types of property held by married couples. Florida is an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital assets are distributed in a fair and equitable manner during the dissolution of a marriage.
What are Marital Assets?
Under Florida law, marital assets are property that is purchased or acquired during the marriage. Regardless of whether it’s purchased by one spouse with money from his individual paycheck, or by both spouses from their joint bank account, property acquired during the marriage is generally classified as marital, with some exceptions. Examples of marital property include:
- – Gifts exchanged during the marriage;
- – A car bought by the husband with a bonus from his employment;
- – Property titled to both spouses as tenants by the entirety. This type of ownership gives equal ownership of the entire property to both spouses. Judges generally see this titling as an intention to treat the property as a marital asset; and
- – The appreciation of a nonmarital asset during marriage. Individuals often come into a marriage with previously acquired real and personal property. If improvements are made to the property during the marriage, resulting in an appreciation of value, the court may find that the increase is marital property.
- – For example, a wife owns a condominium prior to marriage that is worth $100,000. During the marriage, the couple decides to upgrade the kitchen and bathroom in the condo in order to rent it out. As a result of the improvements, the value of the condo rises to $130,000. The appreciation of $30,000 may be considered marital property.
Non-marital property is property that is excluded from the jointly held marital estate. Instead, it is held separately by one spouse and it is not subject to division by the court. Some examples of non-marital property include:
- – Inherited property. When one spouse independently receives property from an inheritance, the property is a non-marital asset;
- – Property that the couple mutually agreed to classify as non-marital. In cases where there is a prenuptial agreement in place, the court generally defers to the agreement in regards to the classification of property; and
- – Non-marital property that brings income into the household. This may involve a business started by one spouse prior to the marriage. If it continues to generate income and the spouse keeps the money separate from the couple’s joint accounts, the court may classify the profits as non-marital.
If you are considering a divorce in the state of Florida, the attorneys of Vanessa L. Prieto, LLC can help you through the legal process. Located in Fort Lauderdale, our office serves Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties. Reach out to us today to set up a consultation and to discuss your case.