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Does Separate Property Ever Become Marital Property In Florida?


Going through a divorce or separation is never easy. One of the most challenging issues for divorcing couples is deciding how to split up the property and assets. In Florida, a couple’s marital property will be divided in an equitable (fair) manner. In contrast, each spouse gets to keep the entirety of their separate property.

This raises an important question: Can separate property ever become marital property in Florida? The answer is ‘yes’—separate property that is commingled or gifted can become marital property in Florida. In this article, our Clearwater property division attorney explains the most important things to know about how separate property becomes marital property in Florida.

What is Equitable Distribution of Property in Florida?

If you are going through a divorce, it is imperative that you understand Florida’s equitable property distribution standard. Under Florida Statutes § 61.075, the totality of a separating husband and wife’s property will be divided in an equitable manner. Florida defines an equitable distribution of assets as a fair distribution of assets. The law does not guarantee a 50/50 split of marital property.

Separate property is not split under the equitable distribution standard. For example, imagine that you own a recreational boat from before the start of your relationship and your marriage. As long as that boat remains separate property, it would not be subject to equitable distribution in the event of a Florida divorce.

Florida Law: Separate Property Turning into Marital Property 

Property obtained prior to the start of a marriage is presumed to be separate property in Pinellas County, Florida. In contrast, property acquired after the start of a marriage is presumed to be marital property. However, property that was separate property can be marital property in two different common circumstances:

  1. Gifting: If separate property is gifted—even informally—it can become a marital asset that is subject to equitable distribution in Florida. As an example, imagine that you own a vacation home from before the start of your marriage. If you offer the vacation home as a gift to the “family” or the “marriage” it can become separate property. No formal agreement is required.
  2. Commingling: Separate property can also become marital property through commingling in Florida. This is actually the more common way separate property becomes a marital asset subject to equitable distribution. Imagine that you have that same separate vacation home. If you use marital assets to conduct repairs and maintenance for years and years to upkeep the home, it could be deemed separate property based on commingling behavior. If you have specific questions about commingling of assets, our Florida property division lawyer can help. 

Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a Clearwater Property Division Attorney

At the Law Office of Gale H. Moore P.A., our Clearwater divorce lawyer has deep experience helping clients solve property division matters. If you have any questions about when separate property becomes marital property, we are more than ready to help. Contact us right away to set up your confidential appointment with an attorney. We serve communities throughout Pinellas County.



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