Only marital property is divided between a divorcing couple. It includes all assets acquired during the marriage, like a house, vehicle and even retirement accounts. Your personal property is not up for division. However, there are instances when this can change.
When you mix personal and marital assets, it is legally known as commingling, and it could change their ownership. Here is what you need to know about commingled assets and how they could affect the property division in your divorce.
When can this happen?
Commingling assets can happen in several instances. Suppose you paid off the mortgage of a home you owned before the marriage with marital funds, or you deposited your separate funds in an account you jointly own with your spouse. In all these instances, it can be hard to differentiate personal from marital property, so the money is commingled.
Commingled assets are considered part of the marital assets and are divided accordingly.
Is there anything you can do about it?
If you can show the court a clear distinction between the property in question and your marital property, it is possible to separate the asset. This can be done by providing the relevant financial records and tracing back where commingling occurred and what each spouse can rightfully claim.
This is often used in retirement accounts, for example, where one spouse built a nest egg prior to marriage but continued to make deposits out of marital funds after. That allows them to preserve a larger part of the account as their own.
You can also avoid the inconvenience of commingled assets by having a prenuptial agreement that explicitly states what everyone owns and what each spouse will end up with upon divorce.
Protecting your financial interests
No matter what your situation, divorce can be complicated — but that’s especially true when you have complicated assets that need to be divided. Experienced legal guidance can help.