When you and your spouse agree to divorce in Florida, you may ask what happens to all your stuff. States that follow “community property” law split assets and debts acquired during the marriage equally – but Florida is an equitable distribution state. Judges split marital assets and debts according to what is fair or “equitable.”
The court must first determine whether assets are marital or separate. To put it simply, if you acquired an asset prior to the marriage then it remains separate, and if it is acquired during the marriage then it belongs to both spouses jointly. The division of assets often devolves into bickering between the spouses during the emotionally raw divorce process. To ensure your interests are protected, consult a Coral Way equitable distribution lawyer. Our respected family lawyers know how to protect your property during this phase of a divorce.
The Influence of Judges in Property Division
A divorcing couple may or may not have a good idea of who should get what, but ultimately, it is up to the Judge to decide, according to Florida Statute 61.075. The Judge will take many factors into consideration, including:
- How many years the couple remained married;
- Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage such as earning wages, caring for children, acquiring more education leading to a higher paying job, and home maintenance;
- Economic stability of each spouse;
- Sacrifices each spouse made, such as a spouse foregoing a job opportunity for the other spouse’s opportunity, or a spouse working to put the other through school;
- Whether one spouse depleted assets or incurred significant debt within the past two years.
Judges set a definitive date as the cutoff for evaluating property as separate or marital. Assets acquired by one party after the cutoff remain separate, even though the divorce is not final. There are other factors Judges can choose to weigh when dividing property, as long as the objective is an equitable split. A Coral Way equitable distribution attorney can address someone’s concerns and set them up for success.
Marital and Separate Property
Many assets are easily categorized as marital: a home, bank accounts, vehicles, but the job becomes murky in some instances. If one spouse owns a separate piece of rental property acquired before the marriage, the Judge can label it as marital if the other spouse spent a lot of time and energy into its upkeep. A spouse who inherits money presumably has received the gift as separate property but co-mingling it with marital funds may change that. A Coral Way attorney could provide more information about how property is divided equitably.
When Asset Division Does Not Appear to be Equitable
Judges also consider any minor children when assets are divided. They can award the marital home to the spouse who will have primary custody of the children instead of forcing a sale and splitting the money. The sale could also be mandatory when the children reach age 18 because the Judge has discretion when interpreting what is fair.
However, when a lopsided award is made, Judges must base the decision on evidence that overwhelmingly supports why one party and not the other is entitled to it. Under Florida law, the decision must also be documented and reference the evidence used.
Fight for Your Rights With a Coral Way Equitable Distribution Attorney Today
Every marriage is unique and your divorce might be more complicated than you think. Your attorney should talk with you to get the best understanding of what to ask for when it is time to divvy up the marital assets. This is because Florida law does not divide property 50/50.
Judges strive for fairness to both parties and any minor children involved – The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm can make sure you are not left with less than you deserve. With the help of a Coral Way equitable distribution lawyer, you should be able to retain all that is yours and start the next chapter of your life. Call us for a free case evaluation.