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PLACING PROPERTY IN JOINT NAMES DOES NOT NECESSARILY MAKE IT MARITAL PROPERTY

All property acquired or accumulated during the marriage is marital property unless it was acquired by gift or inheritance and has been kept separate. Separate property can become marital property, however, if it is “commingled.”

Attorneys routinely advise clients not to place separate property in the joint names for fear this may constitute commingling. In fact, such action CAN constitute commingling. However, just because property is placed in both names does not close the door on a determination as to its status.

The Supreme Court has held that Mississippi is not a “title state.” The determination of whether property is marital in nature “proceeds absent any presumption of title.” This means that trial judges have considerable leeway in determining whether property is marital or non marital based upon the particular facts of each case. See: McDonald v. McDonald, No. 2011-CA-01324-COA (6/18/13)

However, it still remains sound advice to not place separate property in a joint account or in the other parties’ name if the desire is to keep it separate.