According to Florida case law as of the date of this article, rental properties owned prior to the marriage and never in any way gifted to the other spouse were nonmarital assets:
“In determining whether certain property is a marital asset, the question is not which party holds title to the asset.” Szemborski v. Szemborski, 512 So.2d 987, 988 (Fla. 5th DCA 1987). Marital assets are those acquired during the marriage, created or produced by the work efforts, services, or earnings of one or both spouses. See Wright v. Wright, 505 So.2d 699 (Fla. 5th DCA 1987). Even if an account is titled in one spouse’s name alone, it may become marital if both marital and nonmarital funds are commingled in that account. See Adkins v. Adkins, 650 So.2d 61 (Fla. 3d DCA 1994).
In the instant case, the parties had two sources of income: wages from the Husband’s employment and proceeds from three rental properties. The Husband deposited both types of income into the SunTrust account, which was the parties’ only bank account. The way in which the Husband acquired and held these rental properties, both before and during the parties’ marriage, is critical.
The Husband entered the marriage with three rental properties, the Webber Street property, the Sixth Street property, and a third property. All three properties were titled solely in the Husband’s name. Shortly after the parties’ marriage, the Husband sold the third rental property and used the profit from that sale to make a down payment on another rental property, the Ninth Street property. Also after the parties married, the Husband applied an additional portion of the profit from the sale of the third rental property to a down payment on the parties’ marital home on *1151 Main Street. This brought the total number of properties the Husband owned to four. He kept all four properties titled in his name alone. The funds used to make the down payments on the Ninth Street property and the marital home could be properly traced back to the Husband’s sale of that third rental property he had owned prior to the marriage. The record reveals that both parties participated in the management of the rental properties.
During the marriage, the parties used the SunTrust account for all of their banking transactions. All of the mortgage payments on the rental properties were paid out of the SunTrust account, and proceeds from the rental properties were deposited into the SunTrust account. Similarly, the Husband’s earnings were deposited into the SunTrust account, and the parties’ living expenses were paid out of that account. There was also some evidence that the Wife exercised signature authority on the SunTrust account from time to time.
First, we must agree with the trial court that, based on the above facts, the Webber Street and the Sixth Street properties, which the Husband had owned prior to the marriage and never in any way gifted to Wife, were nonmarital assets. Likewise, the marital home and the Ninth Street properties were nonmarital assets to the extent that their purchase prices were paid with proceeds that are traceable to the Husband’s sale of the rental he had owned prior to the marriage.”
- Marital vs. Non-Marital Property in Florida
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