A wife’s effort to claim to claim two burial plots as belonging solely to her failed as a result of an unfavorable 1st District Court of Appeal decision. The court concluded that, although the two plots were her separate assets when her aunt gave them to her, one of the plots became marital property when she chose to transfer ownership of that plot from her name to the names of her and her husband collectively. This transfer constituted a spouse-to-spouse gift that changed the status of that plot.
In happier times, the couple decided to add the husband to the deed of one of two burial plots the wife had received as gifts from her aunt. Some time later, the couple’s marriage deteriorated and the pair sought to divorce. As part of that proceeding, the trial court considered how to classify the burial plot co-owned by both spouses. The trial court ultimately declaring the burial plot as non-marital property that belonged to the wife.
The husband appealed this decision, and the 1st DCA agreed with the husband. In resolving the question, the court decided that the wife’s decision to add the husband to the deed of one of the plots changed that asset’s status. Florida Statutes Section 61.075(6)(b)2 says that an asset acquired by one spouse as a result of “noninterspousal gift,” even during the marriage, is nonmarital property belonging to the spouse who received the gifted asset. That is what happened when the wife’s aunt gave the plots to the wife, meaning that, at that point, both plots were nonmarital assets belonging to wife.
However, Section 61.075(6)(a)1.c states that all “interspousal gifts” are marital property. The court ruled that, when the wife placed the husband on the deed of one of the plots, she created a spouse-to-spouse gift to the husband and that act converted the plot from nonmarital to marital property. The wife’s testimony about the plot further underscored that the husband’s inclusion on the deed was the result of a spouse-to-spouse gift.
The court also explained that any time a married couple owns property as “tenancy by the entireties,” which is specific type of ownership status available only to married couples, then the law presumes that the asset is a marital one. The spouse seeking to avoid that presumption must provide the court with sufficient evidence that the asset was nonmarital. In the instant case, the wife only testified that she did not want the husband to possess the plot. This was not enough to defeat the legal presumption that the plot was a marital asset.
For couples going through divorce who cannot reach a mutually acceptable marital settlement agreement regarding their property, the process of delineating marital versus nonmarital assets is an extremely important one to each spouse. To ensure that you receive a fair outcome in the equitable distribution of the assets related to your marriage, talk to the South Florida family law attorneys of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. Our attorneys can offer you the skill, experience and determined representation you need to ensure that you exit your marriage with the assets you should receive.
Contact us online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Wife Must Share Responsibility for Husband’s Eve-of-Divorce $13K Credit Card Tab, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, March 5, 2014
Wife’s Work Improving Husband’s Office Building Converts Property to a Marital Asset, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Dec. 5, 2013