Understanding Florida’s Division of Assets
In Florida, marital property is split equitably and there are many elements used by the courts to decide who gets what.
Sometimes, a couple in Florida cannot fix the problems they have and they make the decision to part ways. If they are married, part of the separation process includes the division of any assets they jointly own. Under state law, marital property is subject to division of assets.
What is division of assets?
Unlike a community property state, where property is split down the middle, Florida courts generally have to consider several factors to ensure that one spouse is not left destitute. According to the 2016 Florida Statutes, these factors include the following:
- The level of contribution that the spouse has made – this can be through the running of the household, actual income or the acquiring of assets.
- The financial situation of both spouses – their ability to work and support themselves.
- The existence of children – which spouse is the caretaker and therefore in greater need of assets such as the family home.
- Length of the marriage – in a short marriage the spouses will more likely be on similar ground while in a long-term marriage, one spouse is probably dependent on the other.
- Education – whether the spouse has an education, the ability to seek an education or whether a career was interrupted.
- The existence of a family-owned business – the desire of a spouse to retain an interest in that entity or be rid of it.
Additionally, the courts often look at the health and age of a spouse, especially in a long-term marriage. If a spouse can be shown to have deliberately destroyed, spent or given away marital property as a way to prevent the other spouse from receiving it, that spouse will probably be given much less in the division.
Identifying marital property
To make sure that they receive a fair share, people should put together a list of any and all property that is co-owned. In addition to the obvious assets like a house and bank accounts, spouses should also keep in mind that stocks, bonds, retirement plans and bonuses are generally considered marital property. Additionally, any item of monetary value purchased during the marriage may also be counted as a marital asset. For example, if one spouse purchased a luxury vehicle and only that spouse’s name is on it, the other spouse may still be able to lay claim to it.
Sometimes, money or an asset can start out as a separately-owned item and then be transferred into marital property. This usually happens when it is mixed with marital property, used to pay for marital expenses, or the spouse adds the name of the other spouse to the title or deed.
Seeking legal help
When people in the Miami area are going through a divorce, it is easy for them to make decisions that could negatively impact their future. Meeting with an attorney can help them avoid those mistakes and put together a plan that will allow them to move forward into a new life.