The Basics of Dividing Property in a Florida Divorce
One of the most contentious issues in a Florida divorce case is how property should be divided between spouses. Like the majority of states in the United States, Florida law provides that marital assets and debt should be equitably and fairly divided between the parties.
What Factors Are Considered in Dividing Property in a Florida Divorce?
Unlike some states that follow an equitable division scheme, Florida law provides that courts should begin with the premise that assets should be divided equally between the parties unless there is a reason to justify unequal distribution. Some factors that a court may consider in justifying an unequal distribution include:
- Whether one spouse desires to retain a particular asset such as a business or professional practice;
- Whether one spouse has contributed to the acquisition or improvement of a marital asset;
- Whether one spouse wants to keep the marital residence to raise the parties’ minor children; and
- Whether one spouse has intentionally dissipated or otherwise destroyed marital funds.
Classifying Property as Marital or Nonmarital
A Florida family court will only divide assets that were acquired during the parties’ marriage, also known as “marital assets.” These assets include anything the spouses acquired, together or separately, during the marriage. In contrast, a court will find property is nonmarital if it falls into one of the following categories:
- Assets acquired prior to marriage;
- Assets acquired as gifts;
- Assets defined as nonmarital pursuant to valid prenuptial agreement;
- Income derived from separate property; and
- Items bought with or exchanged for nonmarital property.
There are several considerations that may complicate classification of property. For example, if property that is nonmarital increases in value during your marriage, the amount of increase may be subject to division. Alternatively, if you have a separate bank account prior to the marriage and your spouse starts making deposits into it during the marriage, a court may find the property has been “commingled.”
Determining Value of Property
Once you categorize assets as marital, the next step to division is determine the value of these assets. Some assets are easy to assign a value to, such as bank accounts or other cash accounts. Some assets, like the marital home or a marital business, may require you to hire a professional appraiser or evaluator to assess the value.
Contact an Experienced Winter Park Family Law Attorney Today
Negotiating a fair and equitable property division can be a daunting task. If you are going through a divorce in Winter Park, you should contact the experienced attorneys at Cotter & Zelman, P.A. to help you make a list of all of your assets and divide them between you and your spouse.