How Property is Divided in a Florida Divorce
There is no federal regulation on property division in a divorce, and whenever legislation is up to individual states, it can be hard to know the legal details about a topic. In this article we will go over how divorce property can be divided in the state of Florida.
Florida law states that the division is usually an equitable division between the individuals. Equitable can be equal, as in a 50/50 split, but it is mostly a judge’s choice to determine what a fair split of the property based on certain factors such as:
- Each individuals’ personal financial situation
- The length of duration of the marriage
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, economic and otherwise
- Contribution to, or interruption of career or education by the spouse(s)
- Liabilities by either spouse that may affect marital assets.
The court must determine how feasible dividing property is, for example a business started during the marriage could be considered a marital asset but how do you divide a business? In these cases, the court might often award the business to the operating spouse and can award a compensatory cash amount for the other spouse.
But What About Non-Marital Property?
Assets (and debt) owned by the individuals from before the marriage, acquired as a gift (not by the other spouse), or acquired through inheritance are not usually subject to division in a divorce. It sounds cut and dry, but often it is not. For example, a separate property that has appreciated in value is not likely to be subject to division but the value gained during the marriage can be considered a marital asset and can be divided.
Marital and Separate properties can be mixed together, and it happens often unintentionally. Spouses can often divide this property rationally, but if not a judge will have to decide whether “commingled property” (as it is called) was a gift to the marriage and whether the original owner should be reimbursed, and to what degree.
Once the property has been defined, that is what is a marital asset and what is not a marital asset, it is then up to the court to assign value to the properties. A professional appraiser can be hired to evaluate the assets, and often a financial professional such as an actuary or CPA is called in to sort through complex assets such as investment profiles or retirement accounts.
Ultimately, this is usually only required if the spouses cannot come to amicable property agreements privately. If the spouses can come to an arrange that satisfies both parties without taking it to court, then they are likely to not be required to go through this arbitration. However, when a divorce becomes contentious, it can help to hire an experienced divorce lawyer.