How is Property Divided in a Florida Divorce?
In a Florida divorce, assets and debts acquired by the couple are divided fairly between the two spouses. If the two parties can come to an agreement on their own and it is fair, a judge will likely approve that agreement. When the couple cannot agree how assets and liabilities are split, a judge will listen to each side and make a final decision. Understanding Florida law on property division, as well as the factors a judge will take into consideration, is important for anyone going through a divorce.
An Equitable Distribution State
Florida courts follow the legal concept of equitable distribution when dividing property in a divorce. This means the property is divided fairly, although not necessarily equally, in a divorce.
Florida Statute 61.075 states that regardless of fault in a divorce, each spouse should generally receive half of the assets and liabilities. However, that may change throughout the divorce proceedings if there is good reason for it. Due to the fact that complications can arise, predicting how property is going to be divided in any Florida divorce is challenging.
Marital vs. Non-Marital Property
Under the Florida statute, only marital property is divided in a divorce. Marital property includes the assets and debts acquired by the couple during the course of their marriage. Non-marital property is property one spouse owned prior to the marriage, and brought into the marriage with them.
An inheritance given before marriage for example, is considered non-marital property. A home the couple purchased together after marriage is considered marital property.
Factors Considered by a Judge
When the couple cannot come to an agreement on property division, it is left to a judge to decide. After hearing arguments from both sides a judge will take many things into consideration when making their decision.
One of the first things a judge will consider is the economic situation of each spouse, and the duration of the marriage. If one spouse has greater financial need than another spouse, a judge may award them a greater portion of assets during property division. This is particularly true when one spouse contributed to another’s career or educational goals.
The contribution each spouse made to the marital assets is also factored into property division decisions. For example, two spouses can co-own a business that must go through the property division process. However, only one spouse was largely responsible for the day-to-day operations. A judge may consider that spouse to have more legal right to the business because they contributed more to its success.
A judge will also consider any future plans for the property. For example, if a spouse awarded custody wanted to keep the home to provide stability for the child, a judge would consider that also.
The Florida statute on property division is fairly vague. In addition to these considerations, the law provides judges with wide discretion in property division matters. If there are any further considerations than these, a judge may factor those into their final decision, as well.
Want a Fair Settlement? Contact Our Florida Divorce Attorneys
If you are going through a divorce, you’re likely concerned about many things, and property division is just one of them. Contact the Tampa divorce attorneys and family lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay for a free consultation.