An interspousal gift is a gift given from one spouse to another. Examples of interspousal gifts can be anything exchanged from one spouse to another when the gifting spouse shows 1) a donative intent, 2) delivery or possession of the gift to the receiving spouse, 3) surrender of dominion and control of the gift. Hooker v. Hooker, 220 So.3d 397 (Fla. 2017). Those three factors are the actions completed by anyone who is giving a gift to another person. A gift can be as small as a wine glass to as large as a horse farm.
When gifts are exchanged during a marriage, they are marital assets. See Florida Statute 61.075. A marital asset is one that was acquired during the marriage and subject to equitable distribution. “The cut-off date for determining assets and liabilities to be identified or classified as marital assets and liabilities is the earliest of the date the parties enter into a valid separation agreement…or the date of the filing of a petition for dissolution of marriage.” Florida Statute 61.075. A non-marital asset is one acquired by either party prior to the marriage, or an asset acquired separately by either party by noninterspousal gift (gift from someone who is not the other spouse), bequest, devise, or descent, and assets acquired in exchange for such assets. Florida Statute 61.075.
Equitable distribution is the distribution of marital assets between spouses upon divorce. In Florida, the court begins with the premise that the distribution should be equal. Florida Statute 61.075. Nonmarital assets are not subject to distribution and are set aside to the spouse who owns that asset.
An engagement ring is acquired prior to the marriage and is, therefore, a nonmarital asset and is not subject to equitable distribution. The spouse receiving the engagement ring gets to keep the ring and the value of the ring as a nonmarital asset.
Inheritances are acquired by “bequest, devise, or descent” and even if they are obtained during the marriage, inheritances are also nonmarital assets. Florida Statute 61.075. However, if the spouse who receives the inheritance comingles the asset, the inheritance loses its nonmarital character and becomes a marital asset. Comingling occurs when a nonmarital asset is blended or mixed with marital assets (i.e., inheritance money is deposited into a joint checking account where both spouses deposit their paychecks).
Although many couples going through a divorce choose not to hire attorneys, doing so is highly recommended where there are assets involved. Hiring a qualified family law lawyer will ensure that your nonmarital assets are set apart and retained by you while the marital assets you and your spouse acquired during the marriage are equitably divided between you and your spouse. Be sure to hire a qualified family law attorney to assist in these important issues.