Before distributing assets in a divorce, a judge will first determine which assets are “marital” and which assets are “nonmarital.” Under Florida law, marital assets are those acquired during the marriage, either individually or jointly. This means that every dollar you make while married is considered marital property. Nonmarital assets are assets acquired prior to the marriage as well as personal gifts and inheritances. They are not considered part of the marital estate and thus not subject to division in divorce. Certain assets, like real estate, may have both a marital and a nonmarital component.
The liabilities of the spouses must also be computed and identified as marital or nonmarital. Once all marital assets and debts are identified and valued, the judge will make a distribution between the parties in a manner that is fair though not necessarily equal.
All judges in Florida begin with the presumption that the division of marital assets and liabilities should be equal, but they will take into consideration a variety of factors to determine the actual distribution. Those factors include:
- The contribution to the marriage by each spouse
- The economic circumstances of the parties
- How long the marriage lasted
- Any career interruption
- Contributions to the career/education of each spouse
- The desirability of retaining assets intact and free from any claim by the other party
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition/enhancement of all assets
- The desirability of keeping the marital home as a residence for children of couple
- The intentional dissipation of marital assets
- Any other factor the judge deems necessary
Judges have discretion in determining how to equitably distribute marital assets. Therefore, it is important for you to hire sound legal counsel so that your interests are represented. An experienced family law attorney can evaluate your assets and ensure the court has accurate financial information so you’re in a position to receive the best possible distribution.
If you’re considering divorce in Florida, it’s important to contact a divorce attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and assets in property division. To discuss your options and learn how The Law Offices of Lawrence S. Katz, P.A. can help, call us at 305-670-8656 or contact us online to arrange a consultation at our Miami office.