To show transmutation of separate property to marital property requires evidence of owner’s clear intent to contribute the property. Commingling is not enough. Wife’s contributions to Husband’s separate property did not transmute into marital property, but did support an equalization payment to Wife in proportion to her contribution. Court of Appeals awards Wife slightly less than Circuit Court.
Sheilafaye Goodwin, Respondent, v. Charles Lewis Goodwin, Appellant
Missouri Law pertaining to Marital and Separate Property
Section 452.330 governs a trial court’s distribution and classification of marital and non-marital assets. That section requires that the trial court set aside to each party their non-marital property and divide the marital property equitably. Generally, property owned by one spouse prior to the marriage will remain non-marital property and will be awarded to the owner of that property. Moreover, "property which would otherwise be nonmarital property shall not become marital property solely because it may have become commingled with marital property." Property acquired before the marriage and which remains titled in the name of the original owner is separate property unless the record shows that the owner intended to change the status of the property from separate to marital.’ By contrast, if the owner intended to change the status of the property from separate to marital, it becomes marital." To transform the nature of the property from separate to marital, "[a] ‘clear intention’ to contribute to the community or to the other spouse must be demonstrated." "[C]ourts must set aside a spouse’s separate property in dissolution cases, and property is deemed separate or marital based on the source of funds that financed the purchase."
In other words, commingling of separate property and marital property alone is not sufficient to re-classify separate property as marital property. There must be other evidence of an INTENT to tranfer ownership from separate property to jointly held, or marital property.