transmutation of property (SC)

one of the things the judge uses to determine if the property i owned before i got married is if we used the property as marital. exactly what is he looking for?

Asked on June 14, 2009 under Family Law, South Carolina


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

In equitable distribution states (and South Carolina is one), the transmutation doctrine has been chiefly applied to situations when separate property becomes marital property.  In order for transmutation to occur, the owning spouse must express his intention to contribute his separate property to the receiving spouse or to the marital estate.  Transmutation can occur when:

  • Separate property becomes so commingled as to be untraceable
  • Separate property is used by the spouses in support of the marriage
  • Property is titled jointly or otherwise used so as to show an intent by the spouses to make it marital property

Separate property can become marital property when:

  • Marital funds are used to pay down the mortgage on a home which one spouse owned before marriage
  • Separate property owned by one spouse is transferred into the names of both spouses
  • A swimming pool is built at the marital home with inherited funds

Merely using non-marital property to support the marriage, without an intent to make a gift, may be insufficient for transmutation to occur.

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