In Florida, the division of property as part of a divorce is called “Equitable Distribution”. The first step is identifying what are marital assets and marital debts; then valuing the assets; and then deciding who receives which assets and is responsible for which debts. The starting point is a 55/50 division of the net assets, but there are circumstances which support a different division (see Florida Statues § 61.075(1) which lists factors for the court to consider).
Marital assets and debts, include:
- assets and debts acquired or incurred during the marriage, jointly or in either spouses name;
- the increase in value of a “non-marital” asset, as a result of marital labor or funds;
- gifts from one spouse to the other during the marriage;
- and retirement benefits/accounts earned or accrued during the marriage.
Some significant items that are not marital assets are: inheritances or gifts from outside the marriage to one spouse that are kept separate; and income from non-marital assets, if the income is kept separate from the marriage, and not used by the spouses during the marriage as martial money to support the family. This relates to the issue of “commingling” of assets, where non-marital assets are treated by the court as marital assets, because they were in effect made a part of or “gifted” to the marriage.
Two sections of the website – Division of Businesses, and Pensions, Retirement Accounts and Stock Options provide more information about these two areas. Another issue that is important to many spouses is how to handle the marital home. Often one spouse receives the home as part of their distribution of marital assets, and then agreements need to be reached regarding when a refinance needs to be accomplished if there is a mortgage, and how to address any anticipated difficulties in refinancing. The court can award “exclusive use and occupancy” of the marital home for a period of time to one spouse in certain circumstances.
Call me at (954) 636-7498, or use the contact form, and we can discuss the Equitable Distribution issues in your case.
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