If you are thinking you will be involved in a divorce action soon, or if you are currently involved in a divorce, you want to carefully govern yourself so you’re not surprised by unwanted consequences. For instance you may want to avoid commingling your assets.
In Florida, the courts look at all of your assets like a snapshot the moment a petition for dissolution of marriage is filed. Although there are exceptions, the general rule is that everything that has been accumulated during the marriage is split evenly between the spouses. Normally, assets obtained before the marriage are not marital assets or funds subject to sharing. Likewise, assets obtained by either party after the petition for dissolution of marriage is filed may also not be subject to sharing.
Many people are surprised to find out that if they take their separate assets/funds and commingle them with marital assets or in joint accounts; they may no longer able to keep what is theirs. In essence, those assets lose their character as a non-marital asset. What you do with your separate property before and during the marriage and what you do after the petition is filed can impact how much of your separate assets you get to keep.
This is true even in short term marriages. In a recent Manatee County divorce case, a medical doctor was married for less than 90 days prior to filing for dissolution of marriage. The doctor brought a bank account with a substantial amount of money in it, into the marriage. After the petition was filed, he allowed his new wife to continue to deposit her small paychecks into that account and let her have a debit card for that account to pay household expenses. At the final hearing the court ruled that ALL of the money in the doctor’s account had become marital funds that had to be shared equally. In doing so, the court cited the rule that when one spouse deposits funds into a joint account, where they are commingled with other funds so as to become untraceable, a presumption is created that the spouse made a gift to the other spouse of an undivided one-half interest in the funds.
So beware and behave smartly if divorce is on your horizon. You should seek the counsel of an experienced marital and family law attorney if you believe you are heading for divorce. Mackey Law Group, P.A. has been representing people in divorces and many various family law matters successfully in Bradenton and Manatee and Sarasota counties for years. Give us a call if you’re wondering how you should plan. All consultations are confidential.
By: Catherine Mackey