How To Avoid Comingling Seperate Assets During Marriage

Most divorcing couples with commingled assets find it complicated to divide those assets. This is why it's advisable to take measures to keep these two categories of assets separate during the marriage (after all, divorce is a fact of life). Here are some tips to help with the separation:

Keep Your Name on Separate Assets

The minute you include your spouse's name on a property deed, it ceases to be your separate property and becomes a marital property. Therefore, if you have personal items that are clearly your separate assets, make sure only your name appears on the deeds. For example, inherited property is usually treated as separate property. Therefore, if you inherit a vacation home from your grandparents, don't include your partner's name on the deed unless you want the home to be a marital asset.

Don't Use Marital Funds for Separate Projects

Separate properties can transmute into marital properties if they are taken care of by marital funds. For example, if you use marital funds for maintaining the inherited vacation home in the example above, the home then becomes a marital property. Therefore, all your separate assets (be they paintings, cars or properties) should be maintained by your private funds. Don't forget that your salary isn't a separate fund; it's marital property. Proceeds from a separate business, however, are your separate funds as long as you keep them in a separate bank account.

Decide How to Classify Each Property before Purchase

Every time you wish to acquire new property, decide how you will classify it before buying it. Don't assume that your spouse will automatically know that the superbike you want to buy will be your separate property or that the painting you want to hang in your office should be yours alone. Such assumptions can cause confusions that can later evolve into controversies.

Keep Clear Records of Both Categories of Properties

You can do all the above, and more, but your actions may be futile if you have no proof. Therefore, keep clear records for both marital and separate properties. Deeds, bank accounts, transfers, and taxes, should all be available for your separate properties so that it's clear to everyone that you never commingled them with marital property.

Hopefully, you won't have a case of commingled properties if you are divorcing. All is not lost, however, if the properties you have been thinking of as your separate assets have been declared as marital assets due to commingling of properties. Your divorce attorney can help you trace the assets so that they can be declared as your separate property. To find out more, speak with someone like Granowitz, White & Weber Attorneys at Law.