Community property vs. separate property: What you should know

Community property vs. separate property: What you should know

| Jun 2, 2020 | Divorce

While there are many factors to negotiate in a final divorce settlement, one of the most difficult may be that of property division. For many, it can be emotional to part with items, property and assets accumulated throughout the course of the marriage.

Florida is an equitable division of property state, meaning all marital property is divided according to what is considered ‘fair and equitable.’ This is determined after careful consideration of several factors surrounding the marital situation. It is essential to know the difference between marital and separate property, as some items and assets may not be eligible for division in the final decree.

Community property

Community property, also known as marital property, is everything you and your spouse have accumulated during the duration of the marriage. Whether the marriage lasted 2 months or 20 years, all property, items and assets amassed during that time is eligible for division. This includes the following:

  • Memberships to exclusive golf courses, groups or country clubs
  • Income tax returns and lottery ticket winnings
  • 401k plans, term life insurance policies, retirement accounts and stocks
  • Intellectual property, such as patents, copyrights and trademarks
  • Collectibles, such as art, antiques, classic cars, coins, wines and books

Any gifts you and your spouse exchanged during the marriage also qualifies for division in the divorce settlement.

Separate property

Not all property is permitted for distribution in a divorce case. Separate property may stay with the original owner if it is kept separate at all times during the marriage. This includes any property that was owned prior to becoming married, inheritance given before, during and after the marriage and any gifts given to you by a third party.

In order to keep the separate status, however, it cannot be mixed with any marital property. For example, if inheritance money is deposited into a joint bank account, it then becomes marital property and is able to be divided in the settlement.