Florida Property Distribution: What is Transmutation?
Florida is an ‘equitable distribution’ jurisdiction (Florida Statutes 61.075). Under state law, a divorcing couple’s marital assets will be split up in a fair manner. This does not mean that there will always be a fifty-fifty division of property. Instead, Florida courts will take a comprehensive view of a couple’s individual circumstances in order to determine what is the most just property division arrangement.
To make matters even more complicated, not all of the property owned by a couple is necessarily considered to be marital property. In many circumstances, one spouse (or each spouse) will also own separate property. Separate property (individual property) is not subject to equitable distribution. If you own property prior to your relationship, you may be able to keep that property separate throughout your marriage and during divorce proceedings.
However, in Florida, ‘separate’ is not always a permanent state. Property that was once considered to be separate property can actually sometimes become (or transmute) into marital property based on the actions of the parties. In this article, our experienced Largo divorce lawyer explains how the process of property transmutation works in Florida.
Three Ways in Which Separate Property Can Become Marital Property
- Formalized Marital Agreements
The first (and typically the best) way to ‘transmute’ assets is through a formalized marital agreement. If you or your spouse owns separate property from before the start of the marriage, and during the marriage a decision is made that you want to ensure that the assets in question are viewed by the state of Florida as ‘marital property’, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney. Your attorney will be able to help you draft an agreement that achieves your goals and best suits your interests.
With property transmutation, you do not always need a formalized agreement. By gifting separate property or making a promise, separate assets can potentially transmute into marital property. To be clear, relying on oral promises can sometimes create problems. If you are gifting a major asset to your spouse, or attempting to turn valuable separate property into marital property, it is best to work with a skilled Largo family law attorney who can help you formalize the arrangement.
- Commingling of Assets
Finally, not all property transmutation is intentional. When commingling of assets occurs, separate property can actually become marital property, without either party addressing the issue at all. This type of issue has resulted in many disputes in divorce cases. If you have separate property that you wish to keep as separate property, it is imperative that you put the proper legal structure in place. If you commingle these asset(s), property transmutation may occur over your objections.
Contact Our Largo Divorce Attorney Today
At the Law Office of Gale H. Moore P.A., our skilled Florida divorce attorney has extensive experience handling complex property distribution cases. If you have questions about property transmutation, please call us now at (727) 584-2528 for confidential legal advice. With an office in Largo, we serve family law clients throughout the region, including in Dunedin, Safety Harbor, and Palm Harbor.