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When did 'mine' become 'ours'?

When the time comes to divide your assets in a divorce, doing so can be far more complicated than you expect. You -- or a judge -- will have to make a decision on how to separate property equitably, but before that can even be done, you will need to figure out which property is separate and which property is marital.

If you have already addressed this issue in a prenuptial agreement, categorizing property can be much easier. In many cases, though, you will be starting from scratch in terms of figuring out which property is eligible for distribution. In order to do this, you need to understand that there are situations in which property you thought was separate will actually be considered marital.

Backing up a little, it is necessary to first explain that, in Florida, only marital assets will be eligible for distribution. Separate property, on the other hand, will typically be retained by the individual owner.

However, there are situations in which separate property becomes marital property.

For example, if you inherit money, it will often be considered separate. But if you take that money and add it to an account you share with your spouse, it can become marital property. If you owned a house before marriage but then paid mortgages with shared money, the house can go from being considered separate to being considered marital.

As assets become more complex, it can become even more difficult to figure out what is and is not eligible for distribution. For instance, what will happen to profits you earned while married from a business you had before getting married? What about debt for your ex's student loans that he or she took out before the wedding?

The line between separate and marital assets is not always as distinct as you think. Because of this, discussions about property division can quickly turn into disputes and heated arguments.

In order to address these complex issues, it can be crucial that you have legal and financial guidance as you navigate the divorce process. Without support, assets can be wrongly categorized or left out, which can have costly impacts on both spouses.

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