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When does separate property become marital property?

On Behalf of | Mar 14, 2023 | Divorce |

Property division is one of the most complicated aspects of nearly every Ohio divorce. One of the first steps in the property division process is classifying your assets as marital property or separate property.

The definitions of marital and separate property are mostly straightforward. Marital property is all property acquired during the marriage, except gifts or inheritances given to one spouse, while separate property is all property acquired before the marriage.

Your marital property will be fairly divided between you and your spouse in your divorce.

Comingling assets are marital property

However, there are times that property that starts out as separate property becomes marital property. This is typically referred to as comingling.

Comingling basically means mixed. When your separate property mixes with another piece of marital property, it is comingled.

When separate property is comingled with marital property, it is then considered marital property. This means it is subject to division with your spouse, the same as with all other pieces of marital property.

How comingling works

A simple example of comingling involves money placed into a bank account. If you receive a cash inheritance when you are married, that money is separate property.

If you deposit that inheritance money into a bank account jointly owned with your spouse, the inheritance is now marital property. This means it must now be divided in your divorce.

As you can see, it is important to not comingle property if you want to make sure it will be yours in the event of a divorce.

Avoiding comingling

The best way to avoid comingling your separate property is to just remember to keep it separate. Keep money in separate accounts. This goes both ways. If separate property is in its own account, do not add marital funds to that account or it becomes marital property.

You can also draft a pre or post-nuptial agreement that states what property is separate property. Of course, you and your spouse must agree on this before an agreement is signed.

Having an experienced divorce attorney on your side is beneficial during your divorce. Misclassification of property can be costly, leaving you with less than you should have.