Before you got married, both you and your spouse likely had your own separate property or material possession. Some couples have very little in the way of separate assets when they marry, but others have a significant amount, especially when getting married later in life.
These assets should typically stay separate, so you do not have to worry about losing them to your spouse in a divorce — but that’s not always easily accomplished. It’s not uncommon for couples to commingle their separate assets over time.
Mixing your assets for joint use
Overall, commingling just means combining two different people’s assets. You’re putting them together in a way that promotes joint use. This is important for divorce cases because it can mean that those separate assets now qualify as marital assets.
For instance, maybe your parents gave you an inheritance before you got married. You expect to keep this following your divorce, naturally, since it was for you. However, you put that inheritance into a bank account shared with your spouse after tying the knot, and you allow your spouse to draw money out of it as needed.
If you get divorced, you may have to split that inheritance with your spouse on the grounds that it became their financial asset (as well as yours) through commingling. They were able to use it and it may even be impossible to determine which funds in the account started out as yours and which started as your spouse’s. If their checks from work were deposited into the same account, for example, they can claim ownership of at least a portion of that account.
What can you do if your assets are commingled?
It can be frustrating to realize that you made a mistake long ago that can affect your divorce today. When the division of assets in a divorce gets complicated, you need to take steps to secure your future. An experienced attorney can help you learn more.