As a family law attorney in Tallahassee, Florida, too often I hear: “the car is mine because my name is on the title,” or “her name isn’t on this bank account, so it belongs to me.” The most common misconception about divorce is that each spouse owns the assets titled in their own name. While some assets or debts may be non-marital, this isn’t typically determined by whose name is on the asset or debt.
Separating your bank accounts, credit cards, vehicles, and real estate does not turn those into non-marital assets or debts. Absent a few exceptions, the following could be marital, which means they will be valued and distributed between spouses by the court:
The law is very nuanced when determining what is marital vs. non-marital. There are a few ways to protect and separate your assets:
Once you add marital money to the accounts holding pre-marital money, the entire account becomes marital property and can be divided equally between you and your spouse. For example, if you deposit $200 from each paycheck into the pre-marital account, you have made the entire account marital.
You can leave your real estate holdings solely in your name; however, if you use money from a joint account to pay the mortgage or complete any significant renovations, part or all of the property may become marital.
If you opened a retirement account before your wedding and wish to keep that separate from your marital assets, you’ll need to prove that your contributions didn’t come from a joint account.
A post-marital or post-nuptial agreement is one of the best options to protect your assets from being considered marital property. For more information about marital contracts, read our blog post Understanding Pre and Post-Nuptial Agreements in Florida.
For more information on marital funds in divorce, here’s an article from the Florida Bar on the subject.
Need to draft a pre- or post-marital agreement? Contact our office at (850) 694-1411 to schedule your initial consultation.
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