If you get divorced, you will have to divide at least some of your marital assets with your spouse. Some of the things that you own may qualify as marital assets, well others qualify as separate assets. These separate assets often remain with the spouse who owned them originally and marital assets generally get divided.
But you can change the status of these assets – for instance, by turning separate assets into marital assets. One way to accomplish this transition is by commingling them. This is not an ideal approach if you’re concerned about retaining ownership of separate assets that belong to you.
Mixing assets together
Commingling is simply the joining or mixing of various assets, often of a financial nature. Once they have been mixed, it becomes difficult or even impossible to unmix them, and this is when they can transition from separate to marital assets.
For example, perhaps your parents gave you an inheritance when they passed away. Generally, an inheritance is treated as a separate asset. It is a gift from your parents and intended only for you, and you get to decide if you want to share it with your spouse.
However, if you do share it with them, you may wind up commingling it with your other financial assets so that it is no longer separate. One example could involve simply putting the inheritance into the same financial accounts as the other money that the two of you have earned – such as storing it in your joint bank account. Another example could involve buying a shared asset that you are both responsible for, such as using the inheritance as a down payment on a home.
What happens next?
If you do find yourself heading toward divorce, there could be some debate over which assets need to be divided and which ones do not. Commingled assets can be especially complex. Make sure that you know exactly what options you have and what legal steps to take to better ensure that your separate property remains separate.