Knowledgeable Miami Attorneys Separate Marital and Nonmarital Assets

Detailed attention to equitable distribution during Florida divorce

If you are going through a divorce, your financial future largely depends on the equitable distribution of your property. But a truly equitable distribution depends on properly identifying that property as shared or separate. Understanding what qualifies as marital property and what qualifies as nonmarital (separate) property is an essential step toward protecting your property rights. At Rafool, PLLC, we realize how important your input is to a successful property settlement. That’s why we provide highly personalized service, patiently answering all your questions and guiding you through the steps you can take to strengthen your case. We want you to be fully informed about the law and procedure, so we can help to secure your financial future.

What factors determine whether property is marital or nonmarital?

First, it’s important to understand that property comprises both assets and debts. Important assets include your home(s), cars, furniture, jewelry and pets; stocks and investment accounts; pension, retirement and 401 (k) assets; bank accounts; life insurance; and your business and all its assets. Debts include credit card balances, mortgages, secured loans, personal loans, medical bills, student loans, and unpaid taxes. Any of these can be marital or nonmarital.

The distinction is important, because marital property goes into the marital estate to be divided according to the rules of equitable distribution; nonmarital property is separate and belongs only to one spouse. Our goal is to maximize your claim assets, especially assets your spouse is claiming as nonmarital, and minimize your responsibility for debt, especially debt your spouse has incurred.

Nonmarital property falls into these basic categories:

  • Property held before the marriage
  • Property acquired during the marriage in exchange for your own nonmarital property
  • Income derived from nonmarital property
  • Property acquired during the marriage as an inheritance or a gift (except for gifts from your spouse)
  • Property acquired after a legal separation (although Florida does not officially recognize legal separation as a status)

Marital property includes all assets and debt acquired during the marriage.

Exceptions to general rules on marital and nonmarital property

Exception to the general rules for nonmarital property can arise through a process known as commingling. Commingling occurs when a couple treats separate property as though it were marital. For example, if one spouse owns a home prior to the marriage, but both pay toward the mortgage after the marriage, the spouse has a legitimate claim to a share of the ownership of the house. Similarly, if one spouse owns rental property separately and uses the revenue to support the household, that revenue is a marital asset. The property owner cannot present an accounting of the revenue and demand repayment.

Another way property can be commingled is through the active participation of the spouse in the development of the asset. For example, if a husband owns a business prior to the marriage, but the wife becomes involved and, through application of her knowledge, talent, and industry, enhances the value of the business, she may have a claim to part ownership. Her case is especially strong if she worked for less compensation than her talents could have earned her at another business.

Either spouse can protect against the danger of commingling nonmarital assets through a precisely drafted prenuptial agreement. If such a contract exists, a court could decide that designated property is still nonmarital even if the spouses treated it as marital.

As you can see, what makes an asset marital or nonmarital is a question of fact that is open to different interpretations. When disputes arise, you need a strong advocate on your side to help you obtain a favorable outcome. Our divorce attorneys are determined to protect your property interests so you can enjoy a more secure financial future.

For reliable guidance on property issues in your Miami divorce, schedule a consultation

Rafool, PLLC treats property issues with meticulous care during complex Miami divorces so that division is fair and equitable. To learn how a board-certified specialist can protect your financial rights, call us at (305) 567-9400 or contact our Miami office online to schedule a consultation.