If you are getting a
divorce in Florida, you may be wondering if gifts are considered marital property
or separate property, especially if one of you received a valuable gift
during the marriage or you expect such a gift in the future.
In the United States, most states follow the “equitable distribution”
method of dividing marital property, while a handful of states use the
“community property model.” Florida is an equitable distribution
state, which means all assets and debts acquired during the marriage belong
equally to both spouses regardless of who earned the income or who acquired the debt.
For example, if one spouse were to open a credit card account in their
name alone and they charged $10,000 on it, both spouses would be on the
hook for the debt unless it can be proven that the spouse wasted (squandered)
Are Gifts Separate Property?
As we mentioned earlier, “marital assets” are subject to division
in a divorce, however, separate property is not usually divided unless
it was commingled with marital assets.
Separate property includes:
- Income, assets, and property acquired before the marriage
- Gifts received by one spouse during the marriage
- Inheritances received by one spouse during the marriage
- Personal injury awards received by one spouse during the marriage
Gifts to one spouse alone during the marriage are considered separate property,
but if the gift is converted into “joint” property or if it
is comingled with marital assets, it can become a part of the marital estate.
For example, if “Mark” received a $5,000 gift from his brother
after he won the Florida lottery and Mark put it into his joint checking
account with his wife, Jessica, and the couple used the account to pay
bills, the $5,000 would become marital property because it was commingled
with marital assets.
What to Do If You Receive a Gift
If you receive a valuable gift during your marriage and divorce is on the
horizon, our advice is not to mix it with marital assets. For instance,
if your grandfather gives you his $20,000 motorcycle, don’t sell
it and deposit the funds into a joint bank account or use the funds as
a down payment on the marital residence. Instead, deposit it into a separate
bank account with only your name on it and don’t let the money mix
with any marital funds.
If you need divorce representation,
contact our firm today!