For most, dividing property in a divorce is one of the most stressful components of a divorce. The parties to a divorce can choose to enter into an agreement regarding the division of property. Such an agreement can be reached as part of a collaborative divorce. When there is no such agreement, and the decision is left to the courts, there will typically be what is known as an equitable distribution of property.
Dividing Property in a Divorce- Determining Which Property to Divide
Before getting to how the property will be divided, it is important to first look at what kind of property will be divided in the divorce. In Florida, courts will generally only divide assets or debts which are marital in nature. On the other hand, property which is determined to be non marital will not be divided but remain with the party who acquired that property.
As its name suggests, marital property is any property that is obtained during the time of the marriage or any property that is used in furtherance of the marriage. A Florida Court will only equitably divide or distribute property found to be marital property. As such, dividing property in a divorce means dividing property which is determined to be marital property. Such property can cover a wide range of assets and debts which may include, but is not limited to:
- Real estate
- Retirement accounts
- Personal savings accounts
- Medical bills
- Credit card debts
Naturally, there are some exceptions to what can be considered marital property. For example, any property acquired separately by gift, even if acquired during the marriage, will not be considered marital property. In addition, any property acquired by one spouse after the filing of the petition for divorce will not be considered to be marital property, even though there has been no final judgment of divorce. Finally, parties can always agree to exclude certain property in a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
Personal or Non marital Property
Personal or non marital property, on the other hand, will not be divided between the parties by the court. Typically, courts will find that property that was owned by a spouse before marriage, or anything received in exchange for such property, is personal property. Even though courts do not divide personal property, courts may consider such property when deciding how to divide any existing marital property.
Dividing Property in a Divorce using Equitable Distribution
While many people think that property will always be divided equally in a divorce this is not always so. In most jurisdictions in the United States, the property will be divided based on an equitable standard. Under Florida Law, an equal division of marital property will usually be considered equitable, but not in all cases.
A Florida court may find that there is justification for an unequal distribution of property. Under Florida Statute 61.075, factors that can justify unequal distribution include, but are not limited to:
- The economic circumstances of the parties;
- The duration of the marriage;
- Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of each party;
- Any intentional dissipation, waste, depletion or destruction of marital property.
As such, it is important to note that there are cases in which the court may grant one party a greater share of the marital property than the other, every case has its own unique considerations.
Contact an Orlando Attorney
Working through a divorce can be tough, but the right help can make all the difference. If you are in need of divorce, legal counseling or advice in Orlando, then contact a dedicated, skilled Florida attorney at The Law Office of Natalie D. Hall, PA, for a case evaluation.