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Do I have to split premarital property during a divorce?

You may have owned a cottage prior to marrying, and now that you and your spouse have decided to call it quits, you wonder what will become of that cottage. You still own it and, in fact, you get rental income from it.

Florida is an equitable distribution state, meaning the court divides all marital property between the spouses in an equal fashion. This does not mean both spouses get exactly half of everything because the judge takes into account other variables when making the decision on how to split things. What happens to premarital property during a divorce? Take a look at the information below and find out.

Premarital property is separate

When dividing assets and property during a divorce, the court looks at everything purchased during the marriage. This includes homes, cars, boats purchased and bank accounts opened after your wedding. Anything you owned prior, including that cottage, is premarital property. During the divorce, you get to keep anything you can prove belonged to you prior to the marriage.

When premarital property becomes community property

Your ex may want to include the cottage as part of the marital property even though you do not understand why. More confusingly, the judge may consider doing so. Why? The cottage collected rent during your marriage, and that rent went into your joint bank account opened after your wedding. Therefore, while you may argue the cottage is still exempt, any rent is not. Sometimes premarital property gets unwittingly lumped with community property. If one side or the other can argue that it became jointly owned during the course of your marriage, a court may toss it in. This applies to any bank account you added your spouse's name to, a mortgage-free property you levied after you wed and the like.

Dividing things during divorce is a difficult process, especially if you expect to keep what you owned prior to the marriage. Asking an attorney what is and is not marital property can help you understand how the process works and prepares you for what lies ahead.

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