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How separate property can become part of one’s marital estate

On Behalf of | Nov 9, 2023 | Property Division |

Property division is one of the most complicated aspects of virtually any Maryland divorce. Couples often disagree about what assets they need to divide, how much those assets are worth and what an appropriate division of those resources would look like.

Typically, the income that people earn during a marriage and any property they acquire while married is subject to division. But, certain assets will remain the separate property of either spouse. Assets that someone owned before marriage will usually remain their separate property. Additionally, an inheritance received during the marriage or gifts from someone other than a spouse is likely to remain the separate property of one spouse.

The owner of separate property does not need to share separate assets with their spouse, although they will need to report them when making a disclosure of their resources. Yet, in certain, specific scenarios, one spouse could try to claim an ownership interest in the separate property of the other.

Assets are at risk after commingling occurs

Most people don’t think about protecting themselves financially during marriage. They share every cent they earn and every resource they enjoy with their spouses. That willingness to share resources typically ends when either supposed decides to file for divorce.

People usually do not relish the idea of sharing their personal resources with their spouse during or after divorce. However, their behavior during the marriage may have made some of their assets more vulnerable than they initially realize. Many people unwittingly their separate property with marital property and put it at risk if they ever divorce.

Commingling involves combining separate resources with marital property or giving someone access to and control over separate property. For example, if someone received a cash inheritance from a family member and deposited those funds into a joint bank account, their spouse could likely claim that the commingling of those resources gives them an interest in that property during the divorce.

Assets other than money can also be vulnerable to commingling claims. Perhaps someone inherited a house from their family members or owned a home outright prior to marriage. Adding someone’s name to the title or allowing them to contribute to the upkeep of the property could constitute commingling. Similar mistakes can easily occur with a business owned by either spouse.

Commingling can make certain resources vulnerable during divorce that otherwise would not be. Those who are worried that they may lose some of their most valuable property during asset division may want to attempt to negotiate a settlement outside of court. Pursuing an uncontested divorce is one way to prevent commingling and similar mistakes from causing significant challenges for one or both spouses.


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