By: Joemar Pasco
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What Happens to your Properties in Divorce?
Divorce is a tough situation for all parties concerned. It involves lawyers, money, time, emotions, and energy. In the state of Florida, it can be even more complicated. Under this state’s law, the property is considered “equitable distribution,” and that means it belongs to the spouse who earned it. In most cases, both parties will come to a mutual agreement of how assets and liabilities will be divided. In Florida, the divorce court will judge which, and how, properties will be considered marital or not.
The assumption when starting divorce proceedings is that each spouse will receive roughly half of marital property; however, the financial situation of each is accounted for in the distribution. Although the term “equitable” doesn’t mean “equal,” generally, allegations are made in the initial pleadings to apply equitable distribution. If any request is made for an unequal distribution, the specifics should be pleaded and substantiated during the discovery process.
The Divorce Court in the State of Florida
A divorce court in the state of Florida will first classify which properties are considered marital. In simplest terms, whatever is earned before marriage is deemed to be non-martial, and any property obtained after is deemed to be marital. There are several exceptions, however. Property acquired by gift is generally not reviewed, nor is it an inheritance. The statute does state that properties titled in joint names are marital. While the statue provides the distribution of assets that should be presumed equal, there may be justification for an unequal distribution based on other relevant facts. Factors may include financial contributions, care and education of children, and work as a homemaker.
The financial realities of each spouse are considered, as is the number of years married. The educational and career goals of each, and whether a spouse financially contributed or caused an interruption in, may be determining factors in the distribution of property. The reasoning behind this is that one spouse may be economically more dependent upon the marriage.
The future use of the property would be considered too. A house, for example, may be needed by a spouse for dependent children. The relative contribution of each to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of the marital and non-marital assets are considered. For example, a shared house that was renovated. This statute also provides protections against one spouse intentionally damaging, destroying, or wasting assets, and a court would account for these actions in its decision.
Florida’s equitable distribution statute has included a “catch-all” provision. This provision allows the courts to consider any other factors that may contribute. Interestingly, adultery is not considered unless the act has been shown and substantiated to have influenced marital properties.
Florida Statutes: Property in Divorce
Up until now, one may consider only property as assets, but this is not the case. In Florida, liabilities are considered property and are held to the same statute. Any debt that was incurred during the marriage is distributed, according to the same facts provided by the Florida statute.
In closing, a person should keep in mind that courts have a wide range of options and discretion when it comes to what happens to property in a divorce. To receive a fair outcome, one must stand up for what is rightfully theirs. An experienced family attorney is not only wise but required. It is the only way to navigate the Florida statues and receive what you justly deserve