A central task in any divorce is the assignment of debts and award of assets to each person. In Florida, the goal is for the court to distribute of the couple's marital assets and obligations equitably. However, deciding which property and liabilities should be included in the divorce and how to allocate them fairly can be challenging. Here are some keys facts to know about property division during your divorce.
Florida is an Equitable Distribution State
Florida divorces, unlike some other states, are subject to "equitable distribution" of marital assets. What this means is that the property and assets which have been acquired during the marriage do not automatically belong to one party or the other. Instead, the couple's marital holdings will be divided in a manner which is deemed fair to each side. To make this decision, the court can look at numerous factors.
Factors Considered During Equitable Distribution
The court has the discretion to consider different factors in deciding how to divide property and debt and to give them weight according to the circumstances of the case. Some of the factors which are likely to be important are:
· the length of the marriage;
· whether one spouse supported the other while they advanced in their education and career;
· their respective incomes and earning capacity;
· each person's contributions to the care and education of the children and services as homemaker;
· whether it is in the best interest of the children to remain in the marital residence with a particular parent; and
· whether either party wasted assets during the two-year period following the beginning of the divorce.
What is Marital Property and Debt?
Marital Property and debt are ordinarily considered to be assets and liabilities acquired during the marriage. Gifts given to one another during the marriage become marital property. Generally, property brought into the marriage by one spouse is their separate on "non-marital" property and will not be part of the divorce. However, there are ways non-marital property can become marital property and therefore subject to equitable distribution. For example, if one party had a bank account before the marriage and the funds from the account were mixed or "co-mingled" with those from the marriage, the once separate property funds would become marital property. The same would be true if one person was given an inheritance during the marriage which was later combined with a marital assets. Further, when non-marital property has been jointly titled, it becomes marital property. Additionally, the increase in the value of a non-marital asset during the marriage can be considered marital property.
Knowing how the court may divide your property and debts is essential. By consulting with an experienced family law attorney, you can ensure that you are prepared for this process and have the information you need to protect your interest. The experienced attorneys at the Draper Law Firm have the knowledge and expertise you need. Please contact us today to schedule a free consultation.