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Divorce helps with determining joint versus separate assets

When two people are married, often they pool their resources and acquire both property and debts together. If the pair decide to divorce, then they must take steps to untangle their finances and figure out who owns which property. One recent case highlighted some confusion that can occur during a marital dissolution. The woman's questions were about the family home and a second home in Florida. 

The woman had separated from her husband in 2017. She said that he left the family home, and that the family home was in her name only. However, she claimed that her soon-to-be ex-husband has a home equity line on the home in his name only. He ran up the equity line, and she wanted to know if she was on the hook for the debt.

She also said that she had a second home in Florida, again in her name, that she wanted to sell. One adviser told the woman that she would need to review the facts of the case with someone else who could help her, but as a general rule, even if the homes were only in her name, the property could be considered marital shared property if joint funds were used to make the payments. If the woman can show that she was the only person to make payments and improvements to the home, and no joint fund were used, she could potentially claim the home as separate property. 

The result will depend on how marital assets are treated in her state and in the state of Florida where the second home is located. The woman's situation is a common one, and a person facing divorce may not be sure exactly who owns what. A consultation with a family law attorney could prove useful to someone in a similar situation as the woman, and could help move along the divorce process. 

Source: heraldtribune.com, "REAL ESTATE MATTERS: During divorce, court may look at assets owned by both as joint assets", Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin, May 13, 2018

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