Tampa divorce attorneys family lawyers in Tampa, Riverview, Apollo Beach, Brandon, Carrollwood, Northdale, South Tampa, Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County Florida
Se Habla Español Call NOW for a *FREE Consultation 813-672-1900 Or TEXT to (813) 543-8960 Financing Available * Free in most cases
  • Facebook
  • Search

Is Florida a Community Property State?

Tampa Community Property Divorce Attorneys

When it comes to divorce and property division, many people wonder if Florida is a community property state. The answer is clear: No. Florida is not a community property state. Florida is an equitable distribution state. In Florida, assets and debts acquired during the marriage are considered marital property, subject to division based on fairness.

This blog post will cover the specifics of community property states and Florida’s equitable distribution laws, clarify common misconceptions about property division in the state, and provide guidance on protecting your assets during a divorce.

If you need help navigating marital and separate property, contact the Tampa attorneys of All Family Law Group, P.A. online or call 813-672-1900 for a free consultation. 

We are committed to providing you with the best representation possible. Se habla Español.

Let’s get started.

What is community property?

Community property is a legal concept that governs how marital assets and debts are divided between spouses during a divorce. 

In community property states, all property acquired during the marriage is owned equally by both spouses, regardless of who earned the income or whose name is on the title. This means that community property is typically divided 50/50 between the spouses upon divorce.

There are currently nine community property states in the U.S.:

  1. Arizona
  2. California
  3. Idaho
  4. Louisiana
  5. Nevada
  6. New Mexico
  7. Texas
  8. Washington
  9. Wisconsin

In these states, any property acquired during the marriage is presumed to be community property, with a few exceptions. 

It’s important to note that while community property states aim for a 50/50 split of marital assets and debts, there may be some variations in how these laws are applied depending on the specific state and the circumstances of the case.

Additionally, spouses in community property states can still enter into a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement to override the default community property laws and specify how their assets will be divided during a divorce.

Florida’s Property Division Laws: Equitable Distribution

Divorce attorneys Tampa - community property state

Photo by Denys Kostyuchenko on Unsplash

Unlike community property states, Florida follows the principles of equitable distribution when dividing marital assets and debts during a divorce.

Marital Property vs. Separate Property in Florida

In Florida, marital property is any assets or debts acquired by either spouse during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the title. This includes:

  • Real estate purchased during the marriage
  • Vehicles acquired during the marriage
  • Bank accounts, investments, and retirement accounts accumulated during the marriage
  • Businesses or professional practices established during the marriage
  • Any increase in the value of separate property due to the efforts or contributions of either spouse during the marriage

Separate property, which is not subject to equitable distribution, includes:

  • Assets owned by either spouse before the marriage
  • Inheritances or gifts received by one spouse during the marriage
  • Income derived from separate property (unless that income is commingled with marital assets)
  • Any assets designated as separate property in a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement

The court will first identify all marital and separate property during the divorce process. Then, the court will value the marital assets and debts before dividing them between the spouses based on the factors discussed in the previous section.

Equitable Distribution of Marital Property

Equitable distribution aims to divide marital property fairly, but not equally, between the spouses.

Florida courts consider various factors to determine what constitutes a fair division of marital property, including evaluating each particular asset to decide whether it is marital or non-marital.

These factors, outlined in Florida Statute 61.075(1), include:

  1. Duration of the marriage: Longer marriages may result in a more equal division of assets, while shorter marriages may lead to a division that more closely reflects each spouse’s contributions.
  2. Economic circumstances of each spouse: The court will consider each spouse’s current income, earning potential, and financial resources when dividing marital property.
  3. Contributions to the marriage include financial contributions (income) and non-financial contributions (homemaking, child-rearing, etc.). Florida courts recognize the value of both types of contributions when determining a fair division of assets.
  4. Interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities: If one spouse sacrificed their career or education for the benefit of the marriage, the court may award them a larger share of the marital assets to compensate for their lost opportunities.
  5. The desirability of retaining any asset: The court may consider whether one spouse should retain certain assets, such as a business or professional practice, to maintain their livelihood or minimize family disruption.
  6. Contribution to the acquisition, enhancement, or production of marital assets: If one spouse played a significant role in acquiring or increasing the value of a marital asset, they may be entitled to a larger share of that asset.
  7. The desirability of retaining the marital home: If the couple has dependent children, the court may prioritize allowing the primary caregiver to remain in the marital home to minimize disruption to the children’s lives.
  8. Other factors necessary to ensure equity and fairness: The court has the discretion to consider any additional factors that may impact the fairness of the property division, such as the tax consequences of dividing certain assets or the need for spousal support.

By considering a broader range of factors, equitable distribution aims to recognize the value of each spouse’s contributions to the marriage and ensure a more just division of marital property. The court’s goal is to achieve a fair and balanced distribution based on the unique circumstances of each case.

Common Misconceptions About Property Division in Florida

Tampa community property divorce attormeys

Photo by Dan Dimmock on Unsplash

When it comes to property division during a divorce, several common misconceptions can lead to confusion and unrealistic expectations.

Let’s address some of the most prevalent myths about property division in Florida:

Myth: Florida is a 50/50 state, so marital property is always divided equally. 

While some states follow a 50/50 division rule, Florida is an equitable distribution state. This means that marital property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally. The court considers various factors to determine a fair division of assets and debts.

Myth: The spouse who earns more income is entitled to a larger share of the marital assets. 

In Florida, income is just one of many factors considered in equitable distribution. The court also considers non-financial contributions to the marriage, such as homemaking and child-rearing responsibilities. A spouse who earns less but contributes significantly to the family in other ways may still be entitled to a substantial share of the marital assets.

Myth: Debt is always divided equally between spouses in a divorce.

Like assets, debts are also subject to equitable distribution in Florida. The court will consider factors such as who incurred the debt, the purpose of the debt, and each spouse’s ability to pay when dividing marital debts. In some cases, one spouse may be held responsible for a larger portion of the debt if incurred for their sole benefit or without the other spouse’s knowledge or consent.

Myth: Prenuptial agreements are not enforceable in Florida. 

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are valid and enforceable in Florida as long as they meet specific legal requirements. These agreements can override the default equitable distribution laws and specify how assets and debts will be divided in the event of a divorce. However, the court may choose not to enforce an agreement if it is unconscionable or if there is evidence of fraud, duress, or coercion.

Myth: If one spouse commits adultery, they will lose everything in the divorce. 

Florida is a no-fault divorce state, which means that the court does not consider marital misconduct, such as adultery, when dividing marital property. However, if a spouse’s infidelity resulted in the dissipation of marital assets (e.g., spending marital funds on gifts or trips for a lover), the court may consider this when determining an equitable distribution of the remaining assets.

Impact of Moving from a Community Property State to Florida

Community property Tampa Florida Divorce attorneys

Photo by HiveBoxx on Unsplash

If you are relocating from a community property state to Florida, it’s crucial to understand how the change in legal systems may impact your marital assets and debts.

When you move to Florida, any property or debt acquired during your marriage in the community property state will generally be treated as marital property subject to equitable distribution in the event of a divorce.

However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Property acquired before the move: Any property acquired while living in a community property state will typically retain its character as community property, even after moving to Florida. If you divorce in Florida, the court may still treat that property as jointly owned and subject to a 50/50 division.
  2. Commingling of assets: If you commingle your community property with separate property or assets acquired after moving to Florida, it can become difficult to trace the origins of the assets. In such cases, the court may treat the commingled assets as marital property subject to equitable distribution.
  3. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements: If you have a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that specifies how your assets should be divided in the event of a divorce, Florida courts will generally honor those agreements, even if they were created in a community property state.

If you’ve moving from a community property state to Florida, consulting with a Florida family law attorney will help protect your assets and ensure a fair property division in the event of a divorce.

How to Protect Your Assets in Florida

Protecting your assets is a critical concern for anyone facing a divorce in Florida.

Here are some strategies to help you safeguard your financial interests under Florida’s equitable distribution laws:

  1. Maintain accurate records: Keep detailed records of your assets, debts, income, and expenses. This documentation will be essential in identifying marital and separate property and ensuring a fair division of assets during the divorce process.
  2. Obtain a fair valuation of assets: Engage professionals, such as appraisers, business valuation experts, and financial advisors, to provide accurate valuations of your marital assets. This will help ensure that the property division is based on a clear understanding of each asset’s true worth.
  3. Consider a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement: If you are not yet married or are already married but want to clarify how your assets will be divided in the event of a divorce, consider creating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. These agreements can help you protect your separate property and establish a clear framework for dividing marital assets.
  4. Keep separate property separate: To maintain the separate character of your pre-marital assets or inheritances, avoid commingling them with marital assets. Keep these assets in separate accounts and don’t use marital funds to enhance or maintain their value.
  5. Be cautious when dissipating assets: Dissipating marital assets, such as overspending or transferring property to third parties, can have severe consequences in a divorce. The court may consider such actions when determining an equitable distribution of the remaining assets.
  6. Seek the advice of a family law attorney: Working with an experienced family law attorney who specializes in asset protection and equitable distribution is crucial. They can provide personalized guidance based on your circumstances and help you develop effective strategies to protect your financial future.

By implementing these strategies and working closely with a skilled family law attorney, you can take proactive steps to safeguard your assets and ensure a fair outcome in your Florida divorce.

Our Asset and Debt Division Attorneys in Tampa Can Protect what is Most Valuable to You In Your Divorce

At All Family Law Group, P.A., our Tampa asset and debt division attorneys divorce attorneys can help you determine what is marital and separate property and protect the assets that are most important to you.

Call us now at 813-672-1900 or connect with us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and to provide options available.

All Family Law Group, P.A.
The law firm of All Family Law Group, P.A. provides legal services to the Florida cities including Tampa, Clearwater, Brandon, Riverview, Hyde Park, South Tampa, Ybor City, Northdale, Valrico, Gibsonton, Lithia, Mango, Palm River, Plant City, Seffner, Sun City Center, Wimauma, Apollo Beach, Ruskin, Temple Terrace, Carrollwood, Northdale, Westchase, Citrus Park, Town N Country, Thonotosassa, Lutz, Fish Hawk, New Tampa, St. Petersburg, Palm Harbor, MacDill Air Force Base and all of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco Counties. We will also represent DIVORCE clients in Polk, Hernando or Manatee Counties.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from All Family Law Group, P.A.

MileMark Media - Practice Growth Solutions

© 2014 - 2024 All Family Law Group, P.A. All rights reserved.
This law firm website SEO by Lynette Silon-Laguna and website management by MileMark Media.

Contact Form Tab