Marital Property Division in Florida: What’s Fair?
Divorce brings with it a range of legal, emotional, and financial challenges. One critical aspect of the divorce process is the division of marital property. In Florida, the principle of equitable distribution governs the division of assets and liabilities acquired during the marriage. Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split, but rather a fair division based on several factors. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of marital property division in Florida and shed light on what is considered fair in the eyes of the law.
Understanding Equitable Distribution:
Florida follows the principle of equitable distribution when dividing marital assets and liabilities. Equitable distribution aims to achieve a fair outcome by considering various factors, rather than automatically splitting assets equally. The court evaluates the contributions and needs of each spouse to determine an equitable distribution of property.
Marital vs. Non-Marital Property:
In Florida, only marital property is subject to division during divorce proceedings. Marital property includes assets and debts acquired during the marriage, regardless of how they are titled. Non-marital property typically includes assets acquired before the marriage, inheritances, gifts, or property obtained through a specific agreement, such as a prenuptial agreement. Non-marital property generally remains with the spouse who owns it, unless it has been commingled with marital assets or the court finds a compelling reason to redistribute it.
Factors Considered in Equitable Distribution:
Florida courts consider various factors when determining the equitable distribution of marital property, including:
- Contributions to the Marriage: The court assesses the financial and non-financial contributions of each spouse to the marriage. This includes financial support, homemaking, child-rearing, and career sacrifices made for the benefit of the family.
- Duration of the Marriage: The length of the marriage is a crucial factor. Typically, longer marriages may result in a more equitable distribution of assets, as the spouses have had more time to accumulate property and intertwine their financial lives.
- Economic Circumstances: The court examines the economic circumstances of each spouse, including their income, earning capacity, employability, and financial needs. This evaluation helps determine the most equitable division of assets.
- Custodial Responsibility: If one spouse has primary custody of the children, the court may consider this when dividing assets. The custodial parent may be awarded more substantial assets to provide stability for the children.
- Intentional Dissipation of Assets: If one spouse intentionally wastes, hides, or dissipates marital assets to avoid division, the court may consider this misconduct when determining the equitable distribution.
- Marital Liabilities: The court also considers the division of marital debts, such as mortgages, loans, and credit card debt. These liabilities are factored into the overall division of property.
Factors Not Considered in Equitable Distribution:
It’s important to note that certain factors are not considered in the equitable distribution process in Florida. These factors include marital misconduct, such as adultery, as Florida is a no-fault divorce state. Additionally, the court does not consider non-economic contributions or emotional distress caused by the divorce when dividing assets.
Spouses have the option to reach a settlement agreement outside of court, which allows them to have more control over the division of marital property. A settlement agreement can address the specific needs and circumstances of the couple, provided it is deemed fair and meets the requirements of Florida law.
Seek Professional Advice:
Navigating the complexities of marital property division can be challenging. It is crucial to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can assess your unique situation, explain the applicable laws, and guide you through the equitable distribution process.
Marital property division in Florida follows the principle of equitable distribution, aiming for a fair division of assets and liabilities acquired during the marriage. The court considers various factors, including contributions to the marriage, economic circumstances, duration of the marriage, and custodial responsibility. While equitable distribution does not guarantee an equal split, it ensures a division that accounts for the specific circumstances of each spouse. Seeking the guidance of a knowledgeable family law attorney will help you navigate the process and work towards a fair resolution during this challenging time