When two people get married, they merge their lives and their assets. When they get divorced, they need to separate themselves as well as these shared assets. Unfortunately, too many people expect the separation of these things to be just as simple as the merging likely was, but that is not necessarily true.
In the event of a divorce and the division of property, all the assets you and your spouse own (both separately and together) will need to be accounted for and categorized. Real estate, debts and financial will assets will either be named separate property or marital property. This is a crucial distinction to make, as only marital property is generally eligible for distribution, according to Florida statutes.
In order for something to be separate property, it must be established that it was and continues to be owned by just one person. This can include property you purchased and paid for yourself before you got married, inheritances that were left only to you and gifts that you received.
Marital property, on the other hand, includes anything that was incurred during the marriage. For many people, this will include marital homes, appreciation of investments, various types of debt and anything purchased with money in a shared bank account.
However, complications can and do arise when there is disagreement about whether something is separate or marital property. There can be arguments that due to commingling, a once-separate property is now a marital asset, or that the increase in value of separate property during the marriage should be considered marital property.
In some cases, it is easy to tell what is marital and what is separate property. However, if you don't have legal counsel by your side during this process, you can make some costly mistakes and oversights that can ultimately affect your settlement and the equitable distribution of the marital assets. Rather than take this risk, it can be crucial that you consult an attorney to help you navigate this complicated area of law.