When a couple divorces, they will need to divide their joint property and debts. This property may include their house, cars and bank accounts and debts like credit card balances and the mortgage.
In Florida, marital assets and liabilities are defined as those acquired during the marriage, either individually or jointly. They may also include gifts from one spouse to another during the marriage, retirement accounts, pensions, annuities, insurance and other benefits.
Non-marital assets include assets and liabilities incurred by either former spouse before the marriage, inheritances and assets and liabilities excluded by a valid written agreement between the former spouses.
In Florida, when a court decides how to divide property and debt, it uses an equitable distribution model. This means that the distribution should be equal unless the court finds that there is a justification to divide it unequally.
The court may consider several factors when deciding how to equitably divide the property. It will review the contributions each spouse made to the marriage. This includes the contributions made by a spouse who cared for the family as a homemaker.
The court may also review the length of the marriage, the former spouses’ economic status and whether either had their career or education interrupted during the marriage.
The court may also consider whether it would be equitable for either party to keep the marital home, especially when the former spouses have dependent children. If either party has intentionally wasted or destroyed marital assets, like the home, after filing the petition or within two years prior to filing the petition, the court may also consider that in weighing how to divide the property.
Property division can be complex, but an experienced family law attorney can help.