In a general sense, commingled just means that things have been combined or mixed together. You see people use this word when they’re talking about stocks or other types of financial accounts.
But you also see it brought up in divorce cases, particularly when talking about asset division. What does it mean in a case like this and how could it impact the outcome of that case?
Mixing separate assets
With divorce cases, commingling refers to the process of mixing separate assets with marital assets. This can often turn them into marital assets, which drastically changes how they are approached as you divide your property.
For instance, say that your own parents passed away the year before you got married. You were already dating your future spouse, but you had not legally married each other yet, and you created your own bank account for the inheritance. This is clearly property that is only owned by you.
Then you got married, and you and your spouse opened a joint account for all of your financial assets. The money that goes into this account counts as a marital asset, and it needs to be divided if you get divorced. This is because you’ve obtained it after the date of your marriage.
If you take the money from that inheritance, and you mix it into the account where the rest of your money is stored, this can turn your inheritance into a marital asset. You technically got it before you were married, but you’ve changed its status and it is no longer a separate asset that only you own. This means that you may have to divide it in some fashion with your spouse during the divorce.
You can imagine how problematic this is because you may do something for convenience and accidentally give your ex a lot of money or other financial assets that were left for you alone. You may feel that this goes against your parents’ wishes, but it may be too late if you have already commingled those assets together.
Considering your options
If you’re worried about something like this, it shows that you’re probably facing a complex divorce, at least from a financial perspective. Be sure you fully understand all the options at your disposal.