If you are planning a divorce, you may wonder how property division works. Florida law provides for an “equitable distribution” of marital assets and liabilities. This means a fair division of marital assets, regardless of whose name is on the title. But how do the courts determine what is “equitable” when it comes to property?
First, the court will determine which property and debt is considered marital, meaning assets that were acquired during the marriage by one or both spouses. This includes real estate, vehicles, checking and savings accounts, investments, retirement plans, business interests, personal property of value, and so on. This also includes any debts incurred during the marriage by one or both spouses. Gifts given from spouse to spouse during the marriage are considered martial assets as well.
Next, the court will assign dollar amounts to the marital property and debts. Now the assets can be divided between the spouses in an equitable fashion, meaning not necessarily equal, but deemed fair by the court. To do this, the court considers several factors, including how long the marriage lasted, the contribution to the marriage by each spouse, the economic circumstances of both spouses, any interruption or contribution to career or educational opportunities for either spouse, as well as additional factors necessary to provide justice to both spouses. The court also takes into consideration any intentional depletion, waste, or destruction of marital assets within 2 years of filing for the divorce and after the divorce filing, which provides additional protection against a potentially spiteful spouse.
Each divorce case is different, which is why it is essential to work with a knowledgeable divorce lawyer. The experience a family law attorney has will help make the divorce process smoother and less stressful.
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