When is a gift given during a marriage considered marital property?

When determining marital property, one must first go to Florida Statutes Chapter 61 to determine and to define the marital property.  That is usually just the first step, however.  The next step would be an analysis of the case law.  When reading this blog, understand that situations and fact patterns differ, so although your situation may seem consistent with this blog, there could be a very small piece missing that changes the characterization of what you are looking for.  The first step in an equitable distribution analysis trying to figure out when a gift is marital property is the timeframe that the gift was given.  Absence a prenuptial agreement or some other written proof, any assets or liabilities acquired from the point of marriage to the point of filing a petition for dissolution is usually going to be presumed marital.  Gifts are also presumed marital, generally.  For example, many people think that interspousal gifts are not marital property that is subject to equitable distribution by the court.  If a husband gives a wife a $10,000.00 diamond ring during the marriage, then that is absolutely marital.  That means that in a divorce situation, the husband will get $5,000.00 in value back when preparing an equitable distribution worksheet.  Gifts given to each other during the marriage by spouses will be deemed marital.  A gift given to both spouses, even by one spouse’s family member, will be deemed marital in most situations.  For example, husband’s parents give the husband and wife a car for a gift during the marriage.  That is normally going to be deemed a marital gift that belongs 50% to the wife, now, of course, what if that same gift was given to the husband but only the husband’s name is on the title of the car?  Then that would be presumed just the husband’s non-marital property.  Basically a gift given to one singular spouse will be deemed non-marital and will belong to that spouse without any consideration on an equitable distribution worksheet.  Obviously, most gifts are given when an actual name does not appear on any type of title.  That is when things get muddy.  One spouse will say it was given to “both of them” and the other spouse will say it was just “given to me”.  The court will then do a fact analysis and try to figure out which spouse is telling the truth.  Obviously you always want to avoid a “he said/she said” situation.  A few examples: husband’s best friend gives him a set of golf clubs.  Wife never plays golf.  Husband’s friend testifies that the gift was given straight to the husband.  Court will most likely say that this is a non-marital gift.

Husband’s mother gives a couch to the husband during the marriage that the parties use in their TV room.  Husband says the couch was meant just for him, wife says the couch was given to both parties, husband’s mother says the couch was just given to husband.  My guess is, the court will say the mom is taking the side of the husband and it was originally meant to be both parties as a marital gift.  You can see how this analysis can go on and on.  Obviously the clearest way is by a name being on the title or an email or anything else written during the time of the gift exchange.  This also comes into play if a person had premarital property coming into the marriage.  Husband had a home that he owned for 10 years prior to the marriage.  The parties got married.  The husband never put the wife’s name on the property.  This property will most likely be deemed as non-marital.

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