Equitable Distribution of Property in a Florida Divorce
By Saunders Law Group on August 08, 2014
Nobody gets married thinking that they will one day get a divorce. But life happens, and sometimes, marriage simply doesn’t work. Now that you have made the difficult decision that you want to obtain a divorce, you probably have many questions.
What are some common issues that arise in a Florida divorce? Obviously, every divorce is unique depending on the financial circumstances of the parties; what, if anything, the parties can agree upon; whether or not the parties have children, etc.
Issues that may arise are:
- Equitable Distribution of Property
If the parties have children, the following additional issues arise:
- Parental Responsibility, Custody and Timesharing
- Child Support
Of the above, what can be most contentious (after child custody issues) is the equitable distribution of property. How does the court determine how to equitably distribute the property? The first determination the court will make is whether the property is marital – obtained during the marriage – or non-marital, property obtained prior to the marriage. Sometimes the determination can get complicated if nonmarital assets are improved during the marriage. “Property” includes all assets and debts. Assets include money, real property, benefits such as 401(k) and other retirement accounts, deferred compensation or profit sharing. A spouse can also commingle non-marital property with marital property, such as depositing marital monies into a marital bank account. Or, the couple can determine themselves what is marital and non-marital property if they have a valid written agreement delineating same.
Once the court determines what assets or liabilities are marital or nonmarital, the court will assign a monetary value to the items and decide how to divide them. In Florida, courts must divide said property in an equitable or fair way. “Equitable” usually means equal, but Judges may look at a number of factors in deciding how to equitably divide property. The court may consider many factors, including: the length of the marriage, the incomes of each spouse, each spouse’s contribution to the marriage (including time spent at home raising children and/or supporting the career of the other spouse), each spouse’s contribution to improving marital assets, each spouse’s contribution to acquiring income, liabilities incurred by either spouse, and interruptions in either spouse’s educational or career opportunities, either spouse’s intentional destruction or waste, etc. of any marital assets after filing for the divorce or within 2 years prior to filing. Fairness doesn’t always mean 50/50, but the effort and objective is to bring fairness or equity to the outcome of the asset/debt distribution.
Divorce is a complicated, difficult process. Divorces can be complex, and it is best not to attempt to navigate a divorce alone. The skilled attorneys at Saunders Law, P.A. can help guide you through every step of the process, whether it is the division of property or any other issue. Call Saunders Law Group today.
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