Transmutation, or commingling assets, is the process by which separate property is converted to marital property or vice versa. This becomes especially important when determining equitable property distribution in divorce. Separate property is usually an asset acquired prior to marriage, an asset received as a gift during the marriage, an inheritance or separate property set forth as such in a pre or post-nuptial agreement.
Occasionally parties may unknowingly convert property they thought was nonmarital property into marital property. For example, if a spouse maintains a separate bank account or savings account during the marriage, but deposits an inheritance received during the marriage into it, the entire account may be considered marital property by the courts. Other situations could include using separate investments to purchase a home jointly or invest in joint stock accounts, refinancing a formerly separate asset together as a joint asset, or including a separate inheritance gift (from a deceased relative, for example) to pursue joint investments, among many others.
While many enter marriage with the intent to share assets, having a prenuptial agreement can be a responsible way to protect nonmarital assets from transmutation. Even after marriage, parties may consider a postnuptial agreement to designate certain assets as nonmarital or marital property. Furthermore, an experienced family law attorney can help you with planning to protect your individual interests should the marriage break up.
Property division laws are complex for those unfamiliar with the legal system. Our firm works collaboratively with clients to protect individual assets in divorce. With experience handling complex divorce and property division, our lawyers seek to help clients find practical, beneficial solutions through cost-effective means such as negotiation or mediation where possible. However, we are always prepared to represent your interests in litigation if necessary to achieve positive results.
Contact our law office in Phoenix to discuss your property division settlement today with an experienced family law attorney. Our firm represents clients in divorce, property division, child custody and support issues throughout many counties in Arizona.