How are Marital Assets and Debts divided up Upon Divorce?
One of the major issues in most divorces is the division of property or marital assets, as well as the division of marital debts. In Florida, when a married couple makes the decision to divorce the division of property is based on a system known as "equitable distribution."
Equitable distribution is based on the idea that both property and debts should be divided in a way that is fair to both spouses according to the circumstances of the particular case. However, it is important to note that what is deemed fair by the courts does not necessarily mean the distribution will always be a distribution to both spouses in terms of property, assets, debts, or financial value.
Equitable Distribution in Florida
There are many factors that come into play in regards to property division and how the Court determines distribution. Under Florida law, the process of dividing property begins on the premise that assets will be divided equally between both spouses unless a Court decides that an unequal distribution is justified. Some of the factors that may impact the Court's decision include:
- The financial circumstances of each spouse
- The duration or length of the marriage
- Whether one spouse contributed to the education or career of the other
- Interruption of educational or career opportunities of either spouse
- The contributions made by each spouse to the marriage, including homemaking and childcare responsibilities
A judge may consider the above or many other factors listed in the statute which he or she believes is relevant to how property should be distributed upon the dissolution of the marriage.
What is marital property, and what property is subject to equitable distribution? When a couple divorces in Florida, not all property is subject to equitable distribution. Prior to the division of property, the property of each spouse is determined to be either separate property or marital property by being inventoried. In general, separate property includes assets each spouse owned prior to getting married, while marital property includes the assets either spouse acquired during the marriage. However, there are several exceptions that may apply in certain cases. Separate property is not generally subject to equitable distribution, while marital property is.
Negotiating Property Settlement Agreements out of Court
Divorcing spouses have the option of negotiating the division of property between themselves. If they are able to do so, they would sign a legal document called a Property Settlement Agreement. However, if you and your spouse have substantial assets like a house, a pension, a 401(k) plan, brokerage accounts, etc., you should consult with an experienced divorce attorney before signing any Property Settlement Agreement. Spouses who can come to an agreement on the division of property often avoid the cost of litigation which can frequently amount to $25,000, $50,000, or even more for each spouse! If you cannot come to an agreement through negotiating, it will be necessary to have the Court resolve the issues.
Our law firm has over 40 years of experience negotiating Property Settlement Agreements dividing up assets as high as $20,000,000,00! Before signing any Property Settlement Agreement, call our law office at 941-727-5555 or contact us online to schedule an appointment with Mr. Leininger. He schedules appointments for Monday through Saturday, including some evenings.
This Initial Consultation is Free, and there will never be any pressure for you to hire our law firm. To the contrary, we believe that hiring a divorce attorney is an important decision that should not be rushed into. What have you got to lose?
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