The prospect of dividing assets in a divorce can be a stressful one, to say the least. There are likely going to be assets you feel strongly about and those assets you strongly feel are rightfully yours. Some such assets may have been the result of an inheritance. In fact, inheritances are one of the many different things people worry about in a divorce, especially considering some are both substantial and highly personal. The best way to ease some of your anxiety over what can happen on the divorce road ahead is to learn as much as possible about divorce and how assets are divided in a Florida divorce.
Will My Inheritance Be Split in a Divorce?
As an equitable distribution state, Florida courts attempt to divide marital assets in a way that is equitable, or fair. This means that a division of the marital assets will not necessarily be split 50/50, but will instead be split in a way that is fair in light of a number of different relevant factors. Prior to division, however, the court must determine what should exactly be deemed marital property and, thus, subject to division in a divorce. In general, marital assets are considered to be those acquired over the course of the marriage. This is not always the case, but is a solid general rule.
Separate assets, or non-marital assets, on the other hand, are generally those assets that were acquired prior to marriage. Separate property can also include, however, property that was acquired during the marriage if it falls under certain exceptions. Certain portions of a personal injury award, such as an award for pain and suffering, may be considered separate property. Property acquired by one spouse during the marriage but which was acquired with separate assets may also be considered separate property. Furthermore, there may be an agreement in place, such as a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, that includes deeming certain assets as separate and remaining separate in the event of divorce.
Notably, separate assets can also include assets acquired during the marriage as gifts. Because of this, inheritances are often considered to be non-marital assets. Inheritances that may have been considered to be separate property can become marital property if there is commingling. Commingling could occur in a number of ways. If you included your spouse in the title of an inherited asset, it may then be considered marital property. If you used inherited assets in order to purchase another asset jointly with your spouse, the joint asset you bought would likely be considered marital property. Furthermore, if you use an inheritance in order to improve upon a marital asset, this may also be tantamount to commingling and the inheritance may no longer be considered separate property.
Trying to separate out commingling can be complicated and next to impossible for a judge to attempt. If you wish to protect your inheritance from being considered marital property and, thus, subject to division in the event of a divorce, there may be certain protections you can put in place to avoid this. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may accomplish this. It is important to be proactive about putting such protections in place should you wish to do so.
Florida Family Law Attorneys
Do you have questions, concerns, and other worries about the divorce process? The team at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou has answers for you. Contact us today.