Divorce is a difficult process for all involved, including not only the spouses themselves but also their children. Many tough issues come up during and after the process, including child custody and spousal support. Property division doesn’t necessarily have to be one of the most difficult issues, but it certainly can be, especially if property is commingled.
Since Florida is an equitable distribution state, one of the first things the court will do is to classify all of the couple’s property as either separate property or marital property. Separate property refers to any asset brought into the marriage or inherited, which is owned by one spouse, and kept separate throughout the marriage. This property will usually remain with that spouse. All other property is marital property and will be divided according to the equitable distribution doctrine – meaning it will be split in a fair manner, rather than a necessarily equal manner.
What Is Commingled Property?
Let’s say one spouse owned a home of their own prior to the marriage. That home would be considered separate property. But then they sell that home and use the proceeds from the sale as the down payment on a new marital home. The married couple then lives in the marital home for a number of years, using marital funds for improvements and to pay taxes on the home. The marital home is now commingled: It is considered as a combination of separate and marital property.
How a court treats commingled property will depend upon the unique facts of each asset in each divorce. Sometimes the nature of the asset will make it easy to divide it into its separate and marital components. Other times the asset will be so intertwined that it will be impossible to separate and will likely be divided according to equitable distribution in its entirety. If you need help understanding how property division will occur in your divorce, seek the assistance of a professional who is experienced in Florida family law.