Divorce may feel like an emotional minefield, leaving you uncertain about your future. It can be hard to figure out how your inheritance will fit into the picture. Understandably, you don't want it getting wrapped up in proceedings.
Explaining Marital Property
Marital property is any asset that either party acquired during the marriage, regardless of the name on the title or deed. This can include any asset, such as the family home, retirement accounts, investment properties, and even personal belongings like jewelry or artwork. Both spouses own this property equally, and they must find a way to fairly divide it during their divorce.
Explaining Separate Property
Separate property is owned by only one spouse. It is not subject to division during the divorce proceedings.
Typically, separate property consists of:
- Gifts from people outside the marriage
- Any asset acquired before the marriage
Explaining Commingled Property
Commingled property is tricky to define. Essentially, it is an asset that was once separate, but during the marriage, it was combined in some way. One spouse contributes to that asset, giving them at least partial ownership. Or, perhaps, you use your inheritance to buy a new home, which automatically makes that investment commingled.
In a divorce, it is difficult to determine just how much ownership each person has over commingled assets. You must make a strong argument for entitlement, proving that you are the rightful owner of the asset.
Claiming Entitlement of Commingled Property in a Divorce
Identify Commingled Assets
Consider any assets that were acquired or maintained during the marriage by both spouses. For instance, you may have inherited a home, but if your spouse contributed to its upkeep, they may have at least partial claim to it. Your attorney can go over your assets with you and help you determine which properties apply.
Determine the Percentage of Ownership
Calculate the percentage of ownership each spouse has on the commingled property. This requires tracing the source of funds used to acquire or maintain the property. The percentage of ownership will be based on the contribution of each spouse during the marriage.
Contribution, on the other hand, can include behaviors that are not connected to finances. For instance, your spouse may not have contributed to the asset via money, but maybe the managed its upkeep. Let’s say you inherited a car, but your spouse kept it clean, handled oil changes, used it more often, and so on.
Proving contribution to an asset goes beyond the monetary. You must also strategize with your lawyer and build a good case for ownership of any commingled asset. For instance, you can show that your spouse decreased the item’s value, prevented you from increasing its value, sabotaged it, never used it, and so on.
Negotiate a Settlement
You can bypass court entirely and negotiate a settlement with your spouse. You and your spouse can do this mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution.
Russell S. Hershkowitz, L.L.C. is an experienced attorney who can help you navigate asset division in a divorce. We can help you determine the best course of action for claiming your share of commingled property. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us now at (407) 753-4111.