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How does commingling complicate property division in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Jul 15, 2022 | Divorce

Going through a divorce is never easy. It’s an emotional time for all involved and you’ll have to deal with issues you may never have considered before. Property division is one of those issues and, while it may seem straightforward at first, there are circumstances that can make it much more difficult.

It starts with equitable distribution

At the outset of any divorce in Mississippi, the court will look to classify all of the couple’s assets and debts as either separate property or marital property. Separate property is any asset or debt that is owned entirely by one spouse. Typically, this predates the marriage. Except in unusual situations, separate property will remain with the spouse who owns it.

All other property is considered marital property and will be divided between the spouses according to the doctrine of equitable distribution. This means that the court will distribute property in a way it deems fair, rather than equally, taking many different factors into account.

What if the property gets mixed?

Imagine a situation in which one spouse owns a home of their own prior to the marriage. It would be considered separate property. But after they marry, both spouses live in that home and money from both spouses is used to continue paying the mortgage. The home is now a mixture of both separate and marital property.

Commingling property can happen either intentionally or unintentionally and to different types of assets – real property, bank accounts and many others. Once a property becomes commingled, it can be difficult (and sometimes impossible) to determine exactly who owns what.

When in doubt, speak with a professional who is experienced in Mississippi divorce and property division. They can go through the problem with you in detail and help you understand how a court will handle the issue.