Florida is an equitable distribution state, and while asset division in divorce cases is not always equal, it is fair.
The first step in the division of assets, including gifts, is differentiating between marital and separate property.
Marital vs Separate Property
All assets acquired by either spouse during the course of the marriage are marital assets and subject to equitable distribution with few exceptions. Separate property is not included in the marital estate. Common examples of separate property are non-interspousal gifts, inheritance, income from nonmarital assets, and property excluded through a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
Distribution of interspousal gifts
According to Florida Statute 61.075, marital assets include gifts exchanged between spouses during the course of the marriage. Gifts may include any item from jewelry and money to cars and boats. Anything given prior to the marriage is separate property.
Distribution of third party gifts
Marital assets most often include gifts given to both spouses by a third party as well. However, there are exceptions. For example, a car gifted to both spouses but placed in the husband’s name is separate property belonging to the husband. Anything gifted from a third party to either spouse individually before or during the marriage belongs to that spouse. The burden of proving ownership falls on the person trying to claim the gift.
When both parties cannot agree about the classification of a gift, the decision falls to the court. However, every situation is unique, and it is possible for divorcing couples to divide assets amicably through mediation without using the court system.