Dividing up assets and debts is one of the larger logistical challenges in any divorce. Some assets cannot be easily divided, and spouses may disagree whether certain assets are jointly owned or belong to just one spouse.
In today’s post, we’ll give a brief overview of marital property division in Florida, including the principles that govern it. There is no substitute for case-specific advice, however, so please contact an experienced family law attorney for answers to your questions.
How Are Assets and Debts Divided?
Like most states, Florida follows the “equitable distribution” model of property division. This means the marital estate should be divided equitably, but not necessarily equally. The language in the state statute requires courts to begin with an assumption that property will be divided equally, then to modify it if “there is a justification for an unequal distribution based on all relevant factors.”
The relevant factors in an unequal distribution could include each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, whether one spouse left the workforce to raise the couple’s children, Whether it makes sense for one spouse to keep the entirety of a given asset (like a business), and how long the marriage lasted. Each case and factor will be weighed individually by the court.
What Gets Divided and What Doesn’t?
The “marital” assets and debts to be divided are usually those that were acquired during the marriage or appreciated in value during the marriage. In general, Non-marital (or separate) assets are those that were acquired by either spouse prior to marriage or were gifted to only one spouse during the marriage by an outside party (such as a family inheritance).
If a couple has a prenuptial agreement in place, that document will guide property division (unless it is successfully challenged in court).
Hiring the Right Attorney Is Crucial
Property division is a detailed process that requires careful categorizing, cataloging and appraisal of assets and debts. Accurately taking stock and negotiating a fair agreement are critical to your long-term financial stability and security. For this and other reasons, please seek the help of an experienced and well-regarded family law attorney.