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It’s Still Marital Property If You Acquired It After You And Your Spouse Separated


According to Florida law, when a couple gets divorced, all their marital property is subject to equitable distribution, which means that the court will divide it in the fairest way possible.  Unless you sign a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement indicating otherwise, all income the parties earn and all the assets they acquire during the marriage is marital property, even if only one spouse’s name is on the bank account or the deed to the property.  Likewise, if you file for a legal separation and the court declares you legally separated, the separation agreement can declare assets you acquire after the separation non-marital.  If you unofficially separate, though, your income is still marital property, even if you and your spouse are living in different cities and rarely talk to each other.  If you and your spouse unofficially separated your finances and your households long before filing for divorce and are now running into challenges regarding equitable distribution of marital property, contact a Boca Raton family lawyer.

Court Rules That Husband’s Income During Separation Is a Marital Asset

Terry and Denise married in 2009, and although they both owned substantial separate assets at the time of the marriage, they did not sign a prenuptial agreement.  They separated in September 2013 but did not file for divorce until May 2015.  During this 20-month period, they handled their finances separately.  During the divorce case, the trial court classified assets Terry acquired during the separation as his separate property.  Denise appealed the court’s decision, and the appeals court reversed this aspect of the parties’ divorce judgment.

These were the assets over which the parties disagreed:

  • REIT money – During the parties’ separation, a real estate investment trust (REIT) deposited $250,000 in Terry and Denise’s joint bank account. Three months later, Terry transferred the amount to a revocable trust which was his separate property.  The appeals court determined that this money was a marital asset, if for no other reason than that Terry had “commingled” it with marital property by keeping it in a marital bank account for several months.
  • BP settlement – During the separation, Terry received more than $800,000 as a settlement for a claim related to the BP oil spill of 2010. He used some of the money to pay down the mortgage of a house in Miramar Beach he had bought before marrying Denise.
  • Santa Rosa Beach house – Before the parties separated, Terry bought a vacant lot in Santa Rosa Beach, and he built a house on it after the parties separated but before they divorced.

The appeals court remanded the case to the trial court to determine Denise’s entitlement to a share of the money and the equity in the real estate properties.

Let Us Help You Today

A divorce lawyer can help you if you thought you and your spouse had successfully separated your finances before you divorced, but the divorce court did not see it that way.  Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.



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