During a divorce, one of the most crucial steps is dividing property. The couple involved must take stock of what they have so they can proceed with the division of property. In Florida, property division is separated into two categories – marital and non-marital assets and liabilities. Items considered marital assets are then subject to equitable distribution to determine a fair and impartial division of assets to both parties. LaFrance Law can provide you with guidance and advice necessary for a smooth division of property that can often times be resolved outside of a courtroom.
Marital v. Non-Marital Assets
One of the first steps in property division is determining what is and is not marital property. Marital property generally includes any assets and liabilities obtained during the marriage regardless of title. Marital assets can include cars, houses, retirement benefits, bank accounts and personal property. If the value of a non-marital assets has increased due to efforts made by you and your spouse during the marriage, the enhanced value can be considered a marital asset. Liabilities, or debts, accrued during the marriage are also divided. These debts can include mortgages, loans and credit cards.
Assets and liabilities that are acquired before the marriage or through inheritance are usually considered non-marital property and are awarded to only one person. Non-marital property can also include any gifts received from someone other than your spouse.
Once an inventory of marital assets is completed, Florida law encourages an equitable distribution of the assets and liabilities. The goal is to provide a fair and impartial distribution to both sides, not necessarily a 50/50 split.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on the best way to divide marital assets, the courts will determine the equitable distribution based on various factors outlined in Florida Statute Section 61.075. Some of these factors include the contribution of each spouse to the marriage, duration of the marriage, and individual economic circumstances.
Additional Information – Florida Statute 61.075
Florida Statute 61.075 provides in part:
(1) In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, in addition to all other remedies available to a court to do equity between the parties, or in a proceeding for disposition of assets following a dissolution of marriage by a court which lacked jurisdiction over the absent spouse or lacked jurisdiction to dispose of the assets, the court shall set apart to each spouse that spouse’s nonmarital assets and liabilities, and in distributing the marital assets and liabilities between the parties, the court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution based on all relevant factors, including:
(a) The contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as homemaker.
(b) The economic circumstances of the parties.
(c) The duration of the marriage.
(d) Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party.
(e) The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other spouse.
(f) The desirability of retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, corporation, or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party.
(g) The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the nonmarital assets of the parties.
(h) The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent child of the marriage, or any other party, when it would be equitable to do so, it is in the best interest of the child or that party, and it is financially feasible for the parties to maintain the residence until the child is emancipated or until exclusive possession is otherwise terminated by a court of competent jurisdiction. In making this determination, the court shall first determine if it would be in the best interest of the dependent child to remain in the marital home; and, if not, whether other equities would be served by giving any other party exclusive use and possession of the marital home.
(i) The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition or within 2 years prior to the filing of the petition.
(j) Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.