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Property distribution and the problem of commingled assets

On Behalf of | Jun 23, 2022 | Divorce |

Every divorce comes with issues that can be both emotional and complicated, such as child custody and spousal maintenance. Property division can be difficult too, especially if the couple has a wide variety of assets. But one thing that can make property division a truly thorny issue is when those assets become commingled.

The basics of property division

Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that one of the first things a court will do is to classify a couple’s assets and liabilities as either separate property or marital property. Separate property is that which belongs entirely to one spouse and it will remain theirs once the divorce is final.

Marital property, however, is subject to equitable distribution. The court will start with the presumption that it should be divided equally but that presumption can be overcome. If the court thinks there is sufficient reason, it can instead divide the property equitably – or fairly – between the spouses, taking a number of factors into consideration.

Why commingled property is problematic

Let’s say one spouse has an account that predates the marriage. Assuming they kept it to themselves throughout the marriage, it would remain separate property and not subject to equitable distribution. But let’s also say that, over the course of the marriage, the spouse deposited some marital funds into that separate account. Those funds are now commingled.

Depending on the specific circumstances of the commingling, it may be difficult, or impossible, to determine what funds in the account are still separate property and what is marital property. If the problem can’t be unraveled, the entire account may cease to be separate property at all.

Commingling can occur with many different types of assets, not just bank accounts. If you’re preparing for a divorce and are concerned about how your property will be divided, speak to a professional who is experienced in Florida family law.

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