When you enter into a marriage – and you are someone with substantial assets that you own in your name alone – there are several concerns you may have (in the event of a future divorce). There are also several ways to address issues related to the large-value assets you possess prior to your marriage. A pre-nuptial agreement may be one way to approach the situation. Another way is simply to ensure that your separate property is kept completely separate and is never mixed (or what the law calls “commingled”) with your marital assets in any way. As always, if you have questions about your high-value separate assets and your marriage, talk to an experienced South Florida divorce attorney.
The residence or residences you own may represent a substantial portion of your overall wealth. Whether it’s a condo on Fisher Island Drive or a house in Coral Gables, your real estate holdings are an important piece of your overall financial picture and, certainly, losing 50% ownership of such a property simply due to a contested divorce is something you probably want to avoid. For E.E.S., his was a more humble property in Cutler Bay, but his legal case is still instructive for people with high-value assets.
The husband purchased the home with his own money in 2003. In 2005, he married the wife. Even after the couple’s wedding, the home remained titled in the husband’s name alone. During the couple’s marriage, the husband was the sole source of the couple’s income and his funds were the sole means by which the home’s mortgage payments were made. The evidence that the lower court heard offered nothing to indicate that the wife contributed anything to the value of the home. No marital labor, no improvements to the home, no financial contributions. Nothing.
The only potential difficulty was a home equity line of credit. The husband took out such a line of credit to pay for an investment in Peru. The investment was a losing one and, as a result, there was $14,000 left outstanding in on the balance of the loan. However, the $14,000 that was obtained from that line of credit was returned to the same line of credit and the entire process occurred with no commingling of marital funds. When you can provide the courts with this kind of proof, as the husband did, then you are entitled to a divorce judgment that says that the residence is your non-marital asset.
In fact, there are various actions you can take without having that transaction “convert” your non-marital property into a marital asset subject to equitable distribution. Back in 2017, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that, if you secure a marital debt with your non-marital property and pay the debt entirely with marital funds, then you have not commingled and the property remains your separate non-marital asset.
Whether your issue is the enforcement of your pre-nuptial agreement, obtaining a fair and appropriate equitable distribution or some other issue related to your high-value assets in divorce, be sure you have the skilled counsel you need on your side. The experienced South Florida family law attorneys at Stok Kon + Braverman have been helping clients who are in the process of divorcing for many years to get the positive outcomes they need.
Contact us online or by calling (954) 237-1777 to schedule your consultation and find out how this firm can help you.
More blog posts:
Florida Wife’s Alleged Misconduct Allowed Husband to Pursue Separate Divorce, Breach of Contract Actions, Florida Business Lawyers Blog, Nov. 8, 2018
South Florida Couple with $750M Real Estate Empire Divorcing After 67 Years of Marriage, Florida Business Lawyers Blog, Sept. 29, 2017