Going through a divorce is an incredibly difficult and complicated process. When legally joined people separate their lives, then finances, emotions, and personal belongings can be thrown into disarray.
During a divorce, spouses must fairly divide all joint property acquired during marriage. This includes splitting financial resources, tangible assets like homes or land, and more abstract objects such as patents or intellectual property rights.
Overview of Property Division in Divorce
When it comes to divorce, property division is one of the most complicated tasks. Whether it's a house, car, or bank account funds, splitting possessions can be an arduous process.
Each state uses a slightly different system, but generally, there are two forms of property division.
Some states follow the community property system, where assets acquired during the marriage are divided equally between the spouses. The goal is to make sure each spouse walks away with 50% of the marital assets.
Far more states opt for equitable distribution, meaning assets are divided fairly but not necessarily equally. Florida uses this system.
Explaining Equitable Distribution
In equitable distribution, the court considers each piece of property separately. The goal is to make sure property division is fair, regardless of who bought or paid for marital property.
To achieve a fair distribution, the court will consider:
- The length of the marriage
- Any child custody agreements
- The health and age of each spouse
- Each spouse’s contribution to the asset
- The earning potential of each spouse post-divorce
Dividing Debt in the Equitable Distribution Process
To achieve a fair debt division, spouses should take a step back and objectively evaluate their finances. This is not always simple, particularly when you consider the emotional impact that divorce can have.
Parties may need to hire financial professionals to help assess the value of assets, liabilities, and expenses.
Remember, dividing debt equitably does not mean that each partner leaves with 50% of the expenses. Rather, the equitable distribution process is based on factors such as income, lifestyle, needs, and responsibility. For instance, if only one partner is responsible for most of the debt, they may be forced to take the bulk of it after the divorce.
Claiming Property in an Equitable Distribution System
You can make a claim for property under the equitable distribution model. For instance, you can claim that you are the primary user of or contributor to the asset.
Imagine a couple where each spouse uses a separate car for their commute to work. One spouse does not make payments on their car, but since they are the car’s primary user, they can make an easy claim that the car belongs to them.
Other common factors that can create an entitlement to property include:
- Financial Contributions: This refers to the monetary investments made by each party during the marriage. It could include income earned, property purchased, or debts accumulated.
- Non-Financial Contributions: This includes non-monetary contributions such as homemaking, child-rearing, and support provided to the family unit.
- Custodial Arrangements: The primary caregiver of any children involved in the divorce may have a stronger claim to property to ensure stability and support for the children.
- Future Needs: Courts may consider the future financial needs of both parties, including their age, health, earning capacity, and potential for future income.
- Marital Agreements: If a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement exists, it can greatly impact the division of property. These agreements outline the terms for property division in the event of a divorce.
How an Attorney Can Help with Property Division
Legal professionals focus on helping clients navigate complex family law issues, including property division. A family lawyer can be your advocate and guide throughout the process, working to ensure that you receive a fair and equitable share of assets. They can help you understand the legal framework for property division in Florida, and they will work diligently to protect your rights and interests.
Law Offices of Jason K.S. Porter, P.A. is here to help make sure your property is fairly distributed in a divorce. We can help mediate asset division, allowing spouses to work together. If necessary, we can also represent a single spouse in a courtroom divorce, too. To schedule time with our team, contact us online or call our office at (904) 701-0591.