Whether or not an asset is “marital” or “nonmarital” is often a key issue in a divorce. Marital assets are generally considered jointly owned by both husband and wife, and it is usually up to the court to decide how those assets will be distributed. Nonmarital assets, however, are considered owned by only one of the spouses and are generally free from distribution in a divorce. You should be aware that liabilities –debts– are treated the same way as assets.
Florida Statute 61.075 addresses this issue and defines marital and nonmarital assets. Marital assets include assets acquired during the marriage, the increase in value of nonmarital assets (if the increase is the result of contribution from both spouses), interspousal gifts during the marriage, and all benefits accrued during the marriage, such as retirement funds, pension, profit sharing, and insurance plans.
Nonmarital assets include assets acquired prior to the marriage, assets acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance, assets excluded from being considered marital by written agreement (such as a prenuptial agreement), and income derived from nonmarital assets, unless the income was “treated, used, or relied upon by the parties as a marital asset.”
This last nonmarital asset is often the case of litigation. As an example, let’s say prior to your marriage, you had $200,000 in the bank. That would be considered “nonmarital” and therefore would likely not go to your spouse in the event of a divorce. Of course, real world situations are not so simple. In reality, your spouse would likely claim that the income was “treated, used, or relied upon by the parties as a marital asset.” If you are the spouse claiming the $200,000 is nonmarital, you will bear the burden in court of proving that it is, in fact, not a marital asset. Alternatively, you might split up the money; i.e., you could agree that $50,000 is marital, but argue that the remaining $150,000 is not.
A disagreement over assets is only one part of an already complicated and draining divorce proceeding. You should contact a Florida Divorce Lawyer to ensure you are aware of all your rights and options during your divorce.