What Is Marital Property and Why It Matters in a Divorce

Dividing property and possessions during divorce proceedings can be complicated and stressful. In Florida, the courts follow equitable distribution to divide assets fairly between spouses, as described in Chapter 61.075 of the Florida Statutes. The goal of equitable distribution is to ensure that each spouse receives a fair share of marital property, not just half of the assets. However, determining what is marital property can be a challenge. Read on to learn more about marital property.

What Is Marital Property?

Marital property is anything a couple accumulates, purchases, earns, acquires, or benefits from during a marriage. Marital property is not determined by who owned or purchased the asset. Instead, marital property is determined based on how much each spouse benefited from the item during the marriage. 

Marital Property Examples

Marital property is anything acquired with money earned during the marriage, regardless of who is listed as an item’s owner or whose money was used to purchase the asset. Examples of marital property include (but aren’t limited to):  

  • Sporting equipment 
  • Cars 
  • Boats
  • Furniture
  • Rental property
  • Investment property 
  • Gifts
  • Life insurance plans 
  • 401ks
  • Consumer debt
  • Real property
  • Timeshares 
  • IRAs and other retirement plans 
  • Joint bank accounts 
  • Stocks 

Splitting Marital Property During Divorce 

As an equitable distribution state, Florida divides marital property between spouses fairly and equitably, not split down the middle 50/50. It doesn’t matter who owned or purchased the item during the marriage. You, your ex-spouse, your legal team, and the family court will determine an equitable split of marital property during divorce proceedings. Factors that determine how possessions are split equitably in a divorce include how long you were married, your and your spouse’s financial (and non-financial) contributions to the marriage, how many dependents are in your care, each spouse’s earning potential, and a spouse’s vested interest in the particular asset. 

Partial Marital Property 

Some assets may be considered partial marital property. Here are some examples: 

Asset Appreciation 

When a spouse owns an asset before the marriage that gained value during the marriage, the value of the asset gained is considered marital property.

Commingled Assets 

Combined assets are items that one spouse owned before the marriage that changed or transferred ownership during the marriage. A joint bank account opened before the marriage is one example of a combined asset.  

Business Ownership

If one spouse opened a business before the marriage and it increased value during the marriage through the work of both spouses, the increased value is considered a partial marital asset. For example, if one spouse owned a business valued at $10,000 before the marriage and it was valued at $100,000 before filing for divorce, $90,000 of the business value would be considered marital property. 

Exceptions to Marital Property 

Something typically considered marital property can be exempt from equitable distribution in divorce proceedings if your spouse agreed to it in a prenuptial agreement.  

Common Questions Regarding Marital Property 

Here are the answers to some common questions about marital property: 

Is something marital property if I keep it in my name? 

If an asset was purchased or acquired during the marriage, it’s considered marital property, regardless of who is listed on the asset as the owner or operator. 

Is an asset marital property if I pay for it with my own money and my spouse doesn’t use it? 

In most cases, no. Even if you paid for the item yourself and your spouse didn’t use it, it would be considered marital property if purchased during the marriage.  

 What is non-marital property? 

Non-marital property is an asset that one spouse solely owned, utilized, or was gifted before or during the marriage. Non-marital property is not subject to equitable distribution.  

Are gifts marital property? 

If you give your spouse a gift during the marriage, it’s considered marital property. However, non-spousal gifts or inheritances are typically not marital property and belong to the person they were gifted to. 

Ensure Equitable Property Division During Divorce with Kathy D. Sheive 

Dividing marital property is one of the most contentious and stressful parts of divorce. It’s imperative that you have a family law attorney working with you to ensure your possessions are divided fairly in a divorce. Contact Osceola and Polk County family law attorney Kathy D. Sheive at 407-315-2268 for a case consultation. 

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