When a married couple divorces, the court goes through various steps in deciding how to divide their property. Before considering how to divide the jointly held property between a husband and wife, the court identifies the separate property that can be held apart from the mixed pile. Separate or nonmarital property is returned to respective former spouses and is off-limits to the other spouse.
The following are examples of separate property:
- Funds and property brought into the marriage or inherited by one of the spouses during the marriage
- Assets that are identified as nonmarital property by the couple in a written agreement
- Items exchanged or purchased with separate property
- Income from separate property, unless it was treated as joint property by the spouses
Income generated from separate property may become joint marital property if it is commingled. For example, if a husband owns an apartment before marrying his wife and deposits the rent into a joint bank account, then the rent is presumed to be joint marital property. If the wife contributes to the maintenance of the property or helps to rent it out, then she may be entitled to receive a portion of the income generated or part of the value of the apartment itself.
Depending on the circumstances, it may be preferable to settle in order to avoid the high litigation costs and the lengthy and tumultuous process of the division of property by the court. If you are involved in a divorce or would like to avoid a future battle to retain your assets, make sure you hire an attorney who is knowledgeable about Florida family law and can help you estimate the value of your separate property.