When marital funds are commingled, it means that assets or money that was originally separate property has been mixed with marital assets or funds during the course of a marriage. Commingling can occur in various ways, such as:
1. **Joint Bank Accounts:** When separate funds are deposited into a joint bank account shared by both spouses, those funds become commingled.
2. **Using Marital Funds for Separate Property:** If you use marital income or funds to maintain, improve, or pay expenses related to your separate property (such as a pre-marital home), it can become commingled.
3. **Investments:** If you invest separate funds in joint investments, such as stocks or real estate, those assets can become commingled.
4. **Gifts and Inheritances:** If you receive a gift or inheritance and deposit it into a joint account, it may be considered commingled.
The commingling of marital and separate funds can make property division more complex during a divorce because it can blur the lines between what is considered separate and marital property. When determining how commingled funds will be treated in a divorce, Florida law typically follows the principle of "equitable distribution," which means that marital assets and debts are divided fairly, but not necessarily equally, unless there's an agreement to the contrary.
Here are some considerations in a divorce involving commingled funds:
1. **Tracing Separate Property:** To protect your separate property, it may be necessary to trace and document the origin of those funds. Providing evidence of the source of the funds used to purchase or maintain separate property can help establish that it should remain separate property.
2. **Agreements:** If you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that outlines how commingled assets should be treated in the event of a divorce, the court will often respect those terms, assuming the agreement is legally valid.
3. **Equitable Distribution:** If no agreement exists, the court will consider various factors when determining how to divide commingled assets, including the length of the marriage, the contributions of each spouse, and the financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage.
4. **Professional Guidance:** Consult with an experienced family law attorney in Florida who can assess your specific situation, help you understand your rights, and provide guidance on how to protect your interests in the division of commingled assets.
It's important to note that property division laws can be complex and may vary based on the specific facts of your case, so seeking legal advice is crucial when dealing with commingled assets in a divorce.