The Division of Divorce Assets In Florida
Under Florida law, the court will divide marital assets 50/50 in a divorce unless factors exist that would make an equal split inequitable. This “equitable distribution” applies to all assets, liabilities, and real estate that is jointly owned by both parties. Separate property remains the property of the spouse who owns it.
Divorcing spouses can become confused and frustrated during asset division and feel like they are not receiving a fair deal. Even the most civil couples can begin to argue during this point in the divorce proceedings. This is where experienced divorce attorneys can help.
Let’s look at what classifies as marital assets and how those assets are likely to be divided in a Florida divorce court.
Marital Assets vs. Separate Property
Each party must have a clear understanding of what makes up marital and non-marital property. What constitutes marital assets can sometimes be a difficult concept to define.
In the state of Florida, marital assets and liabilities pertain to those acquired during the marriage, jointly by both of them or individually by either spouse. This includes real property, interspousal gifts, enhancement in value or appreciation of assets, and jointly titled personal property. Vested and non-vested benefits accrued during the marriage such as retirement funds, pensions, profit-sharing programs, annuities, and insurance policies are also included.
Separate property, or non-marital assets, include those assets acquired prior to the marriage. In the case of real estate, separate property can take on a marital component in certain circumstances. For example, if funds earned during the marriage were used to pay down the balance on the mortgage, any equity gained on the home may be subject to equitable distribution. The same goes for property improvements. An increase in value due to such expenditures may fall under marital assets.
If separate property is commingled with marital assets, for example, if money inherited by one spouse is deposited into a jointly held account, it becomes marital property subject to equitable distribution.
When a married couple jointly purchases a home, it is owned by the marital union, rather than by the individual spouses. Each spouse owns a half interest in the marital union.
If the home is not sold as part of the divorce, the spouse who retains it is required to continue to make monthly mortgage payments. If that party fails to pay, both parties may still be liable to the bank. When a married couple signs a promissory note, divorce proceedings do not extinguish a spouse’s obligation to the mortgage company.
Sometimes, divorce lawyers will require the spouse who keeps the home to refinance the mortgage in just their own name. That way the other spouse will no longer be liable for property that is no longer owned.
Financial child support is the responsibility of each parent, regardless of marital status. In the case of divorce, child support payment plans must be approved by a Florida family law court before the divorce is finalized. The parent without primary custody is expected to make payments directly to the parent with custody according to this plan.
The amount and duration of the payments are determined by Florida’s child support laws. The combined monthly net incomes of both parents, the number of children involved, and the amount of time each parent spends with the child, as well as medical, dental, psychological, and educational needs are all taken into consideration. Family lawyers are skilled at negotiating child support agreements.
Get Help With Divorce Assets in Florida
When divorce assets in Florida are mishandled, it leads to stress for both parties and can have long-term repercussions for their children and other dependents. Get help from an experienced Florida attorney if you’re unsure how to navigate the murky waters of property division.