In New York, when you get married, all of the property and assets that you bring into the marriage are considered separate property. Typically, if your separate property is kept distinct from the marital property and assets that you accumulate with your spouse, then in the event of a divorce, your separate property will come back to you in its entirety, without being divided through the process of equitable distribution.
However, separate property can turn into marital property in a variety of circumstances. This is a harsh reality for people to be hit with in the middle of a divorce proceeding. Seeing their personal property, which they had obtained well before the marriage, being split between you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse can be a difficult thought. One way for this to happen is through the process of transmutation
Transmutation of Separate Property Into Marital Property
The property and assets that you bring into a marriage are considered separate property. However, when two people get married, and for so long as the marriage goes well, there is little thought about who is the rightful owner of something. It is often used for the benefit of the family unit, as a whole.
Therefore, property that is technically considered to be separate property is often mixed, or commingled, with property that was obtained during the marriage. This property that was accumulated during the marriage is considered marital property, which gets split in the event of a divorce. If your separate property gets mixed in with your family’s marital property to the point where it is impossible to tell what is what, then your separate property is often considered to have transmuted into marital property.
One way that this can happen is if you use separate property to pay for something for your family, like a house, during the marriage, and then mortgage the house to pay for purely family expenses, like sending your kids to college.
The Impact of Transmutation, and How Divorce Attorneys Can Help
Transmutation of your separate property into marital property can be devastating because it leads to your personal belongings being split equitably during a divorce proceeding. It often happens with little warning, as the judge in a divorce case has a lot of latitude in determining who should receive what.
The best way to protect yourself is by having a family law and divorce attorney at your side throughout the process. Contact the Bombardo Law Office P.C. online or at (315) 488-5544.