How is a Divorcing Couple’s Property Divided in Florida?
A divorce is more than just a romantic breakup. It is the legal dissolution of a marriage. When a couple divorces, the court must make certain determinations to ensure that both parties’ rights are upheld and needs are met in the years that follow their divorce. This can mean creating a child custody order and parenting time schedule for the couple’s children or creating an alimony order. It nearly always involves dividing the couple’s marital property.
Courts Use the Doctrine of Equitable Distribution
Marital property is not divided equally in a divorce. It is divided equitably. Equitable distribution means that both parties’ personal and financial needs are considered alongside their contributions to the marriage to determine a fair way to divide the couple’s property. This is an accurate way to ensure that both partners receive an appropriate share of their marital estate because often, individuals make intangible, often incomparable contributions to their marriages that cannot easily be quantified and divided.
Property that may be subject to equitable distribution during a divorce includes:
- The couple’s home and other real estate properties;
- The couple’s savings accounts;
- The couple’s investments;
- Retirement plans; and
- Tangible assets like vehicles, collections, and household items.
Marital Property is Divided, Nonmarital Property Remains with its Owner
There are two types of property that a married individual has: marital property and nonmarital property, also known as separate property. Property that an individual owned before he or she was married is separate property. Property that the couple acquired during their marriage is marital property.
There are exceptions to this, though. When a married individual receives property as a gift or through inheritance, that property is separate property. Separate property can also become marital property if it changes in value during the marriage due to the other partner’s contributions, such as a house having its mortgage paid down and its value increased through renovations after its owner’s spouse moves in.
Factors Considered when Dividing Marital Property
When dividing a divorcing couple’s property, the court considers a set of factors about their marriage and individual needs. These factors include:
- Both parties’ income and assets;
- Both parties’ age and health;
- The length of the marriage;
- How each spouse contributed to the other’s educational attainment or career;
- Each partner’s economic and noneconomic contributions to the marriage; and
- Each partner’s desire to retain certain assets. For example, the partner with primary custody of the couple’s children might want to retain the martial home. In exchange for this asset, the court may award the other partner a larger share of the couple’s savings or another asset so they receive equitable shares of their marital estate.
Work with Draper Law Office to Complete your Divorce
Every divorce involves some property division, whether it is decades of accumulated wealth or just a few years’ worth of savings. To learn more about property division and other components of the divorce process, speak with one of the experienced divorce lawyers at Draper Law Office. Contact our firm online or by calling 866-767-4711 today to set up your free, no-obligation consultation in one of our three convenient Florida offices: St. Cloud, Kissimmee, and Orlando.