It can take years for a Florida couple to earn and save enough money for a home. As they work and plan for their future, they may build a solid portfolio of investments, both tangible and intangible, in addition to the home where they raise their family. Between their sacrifices and sweat, they can come to possess significant wealth and diverse assets.
If that couple later decides that divorce is necessary for the parties, dividing up their extensive holdings can be confusing and hard to manage on their own. A trusted family law attorney can advise a divorcing party on their rights and options regarding the retention or division of their property. This can include classifying property as separate (non-marital assets and liabilities) or marital (marital assets and liabilities).
Individuals with specific questions should reach out their legal representatives for advice because this post provides no specific guidance. It is informational in content and provides basic information about property division. Property division is a significant element of many Florida divorces and can have long-term effects on the post-divorce lives of the parties.
What is separate property?
Not all the property that is owned during a marriage can or should be classified as marital. For example, an individual who is gifted property to only them during their marriage and uses it for themselves should not have to give their gift to their ex in a divorce. Examples of separate property can include the following:
- Gifts and inheritances directed to individuals;
- Legal settlements or judgments awarded to individuals; and
- Property owned by individuals prior to marriage that is not comingled with marital property.
An individual generally has the right to emerge from their marriage in possession of all their separate property. Whether an item of property should be classified as marital or separate can sometimes be difficult to determine.
What is marital property?
Property that is owned by both parties to a marriage, or separate property that has been converted into marital property during a marriage, is considered marital property. Both parties to the marriage have an ownership interest in it, and when marital property is divided in a Florida divorce, it is subject to the laws of equitable distribution. Equitable distribution does not mean that the property is split equally between the divorcing parties, but rather a fair distribution of assets should be made to ensure the parties emerge with reasonable distributions.