In a divorce, people can experience a lot of confusion. They often have no other experience with the legal system, and they can get overwhelmed with all the laws, loopholes, and legal terminology.
For some, the most confusing part is the division of property. They don’t understand why they are fighting for property that they believe is already “theirs.”
This article is here to help clear up that confusion. In it, we will explain marital property, Florida’s equitable division system, and entitlement.
What Is Marital Property?
Within a marriage, there are two different types of property: separate and marital.
Separate property belongs to only one spouse. Generally, it comes from outside the marriage. This includes inheritance, gifts from people outside the marriage, and anything the spouse owned before the marriage.
Marital property belongs to each spouse equally. There are always exceptions, but for the most part, it consists of anything that either spouse purchased while married. It doesn’t matter whose name is on the lease or who makes the payments. If you buy something while you are married, your spouse is the co-owner of that asset.
What Is Equitable Property Division?
Like most states, Florida uses the equitable property division model when handling divorces.
This system attempts to achieve a fair split, not an equal split. Essentially, the law assumes that each spouse owns the marital property. Therefore, it gives assets to the most “deserving” spouse, allowing them to become the sole owner.
To prove that you should keep an asset, you must show the court that you are entitled to it.
How Do You Prove Entitlement to Property in a Divorce?
Two major strategies can help demonstrate entitlement.
Primary Use of the Asset
Imagine a couple consisting of two working spouses. Each uses a separate car to commute to work, run errands, and so on. They probably even refer to the automobiles as “my car” and “your car.”
If both cars were purchased during the marriage, they belong to both spouses equally. When the couple divorces, the court must decide who gets to keep which car.
The “primary use” argument states that you used the property the most. In our example above, each spouse has a strong argument to keep the car they used, the one they already think of as “theirs.”
Contribution to the Asset
Imagine a traditional marriage where one spouse stays at home with the kids and the other works. The at-home parent not only manages the children, but they also take care of the home. They keep it clean, and they manage all necessary repairs. Perhaps they even spearhead remodeling projects and additions.
Put simply, “contribution” claims that one spouse made an asset more valuable. The example above creates a justifiable claim that the at-home parent should keep the house.
Other Property Division Models
Only nine states still use the “equal” or “community property” distribution system in a divorce. Essentially, this method attempts to give each spouse 50% of the value of all marital assets.
Many people consider this system antiquated because it comes with difficulties. Whatever property you keep, you must give your spouse 50% of its value. This becomes a real problem for someone who, for example, keeps the home. They could be forced to give their spouse hundreds of thousands of dollars they don’t have on hand.
In community property states, spouses must often trade physical property until they reach an even split. They may even be forced to sell off property and divide the profits equally.
Law Offices of Jason K.S. Porter, P.A. is here to help you achieve a fair, balanced property split in your divorce. For a free consultation, call our team today at (904) 701-0591 or contact us online. **Consultation fees may apply to family law consultations.