Property Division

One of the most difficult and complex areas of divorce is the division of marital assets and debts. Marital property may include cars, houses, retirement benefits (pensions and 401k plans), business interests, cash, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, personal property, and other things of value. Debts, also called liabilities, include mortgages, car loans, credit card accounts, and other amounts of money you and your spouse owe to third parties. Any asset or liability acquired during the marriage is marital and subject to distribution. The parties may also have assets or liabilities considered non-marital and should be awarded to only one party, but have a marital component because of appreciation due to the use of marital funds or marital efforts.

Florida statutes and case law provide for an “equitable distribution” of marital assets and liabilities. Marital property should be divided fairly or equitably between the parties, regardless of how title is held. A court decides equitable distribution before considering alimony. Equitable distribution is based on a long list of factors the court must consider.

Factors to be considered by the court include the contribution of each spouse to the marriage; the duration of the marriage; and the economic circumstances of each spouse. The court should approve your agreement if the court finds it to be reasonable. If you and your spouse cannot agree, the court will divide the assets and liabilities after a trial where evidence is presented on the value of each asset and each debt.

Discuss with an attorney what assets are non-marital assets, such as personal injury awards and inheritances.


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