CAN MY NON-MARITAL PROPERTY BE TAKEN FROM ME IN A FLORIDA DIVORCE? (part one)
In every Florida divorce, the judge must determine what property owned by each spouse is marital and what property is non-marital.
As a general rule discussed briefly in an earlier legal guide, everything that you own when you wake up on your wedding day is your own individual, non-marital property and won't get divided in a divorce. In addition, any gift given to you individually during the marriage by someone other than your spouse is your non-marital property. For example, your parent gives you a watch for your birthday or Aunt Millie dies and leaves you $10,000 in her will.
But if you are not careful, your non-marital property can become marital and get divided along with all of the other marital property. That certainly doesn't sound fair, but it happens.
CAN MY NON-MARITAL PROPERTY BE TAKEN FROM ME IN A FLORIDA DIVORCE? (part two)
Suppose you own a house before the marriage, for example, and you refinance it during the marriage and place your spouse's name on the title as a joint owner. Without making it clear on the record that you do not intend this to be an unrestricted gift, you have just given your non-marital house to the marriage. Similarly if you take the $10,000 you got from your Aunt Millie and you place it in the family checking account, you have just given it to the marriage.
The problem is that you can generally plan on all of the marital property getting divided 50/50 during a Florida divorce. So you will only end up with half of what used to be all yours.
Many people contact someone who has been declared by the Florida Bar to be a Florida family law specialist before transferring non-marital assets into joint names.
Bottom line: Watch out for the danger of losing your non-marital property in a Florida divorce.