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How to handle separate property in a divorce

Many people going through the divorce process in Florida and throughout the U.S. have difficulties when it comes to dividing the property and assets they have accumulated throughout the marriage. While some prefer to determine who receives what through mediation, others require the court to make this decision.

Yet not all property in a marriage is eligible for division in the divorce settlement. There are some items that may stay with the original owner, even after the divorce is finalized. If you are going through a divorce or looking into starting the process, it is important to know what non-marital property is and how it is handled to ensure you receive everything you deserve in the settlement.

What is separate property?

Otherwise referred to as non-marital property, separate property involves items that you owned prior to the marriage. This includes property with your name on the title, such as home or vehicle. According to the National Law Review, separate property may also include the following:

  • Personal injury compensation awarded in your case
  • Inheritance money or property given to you
  • Gifts given to you by a third-party

Non-marital property may also include money in your retirement account, 401k plan, stocks and money market accounts that you earned prior to getting married. Any item that remains solely in your name and was not earned or purchased during the marriage may qualify as separate property.

How is separate property handled?

It is important to keep non-marital property separate from marital property. If combined, non-marital property may lose its ‘separate’ status and be eligible for division in the settlement. For example, if you receive inheritance money and place the funds in a joint bank account with your spouse, that money becomes marital because it was combined with marital assets.