Allgood v. Allgood: Recent decisions have made the issue of commingling more complicated, and indicate a shift in Mississippi’s view on tracing.
By Mark Chinn, Faimily Lawyer
In the past, it has been fairly well established that separate assets are commingled when placed in joint ownership. For example, if a man receives an inheritance of $10,000, it would be considered separate or non-marital property. However, if that man places that inheritance in a joint account, it would be commingled and subject to distribution. The division, of course, would not necessarily be equal. It has been opined that these types of holdings places Mississippi in a small minority of jurisdictions with regard to tracing rules. Bell, Deborah H., Mississippi Family Law, Nautilus Publishing (1st Ed. 2005), at 167.
Recent decisions have made the issue of commingling quite a bit more complicated, and indicate a shift in Mississippi’s view on tracing. In the recent decision of Allgood v. Allgood, No. 2009–CA–00858–COA, decided February 15, 2011, the Court of Appeals held that a man should get credit for inherited funds placed in a joint marital home, even though he had previously placed the inherited funds in joint account. Despite two separate acts of apparent commingling, the assets were still held to have retained their separate character, because they could be clearly traced to the inheritance. This decision probably brings Mississippi into the majority of jurisdictions, but it sure does make legal opinions almost impossible to render on commingling.
To read full case: Allgood v. Allgood
Mark Chinn is a divorce lawyer in Jackson County, Mississippi. Visit his website here – http://www.chinnandassociates.com.