The concept of equitable property division in Florida divorces is used for dividing the assets between the two partners. People undergoing legal separation from their spouse in the state must know how this principle affects the distribution process. It will be pertinent to read the information provided in this article before hiring a divorce attorney in Fort Pierce or any other Florida city.
1. Principle Of Equitable Distribution
Florida like the majority of the states follows the principle of equitable distribution for splitting assets between divorcing spouses. Equitable does not always mean that the property will be divided in a 50:50 ratio between the two parties. There are various factors which affect the process which we will discuss in the next point. However, the law dictates that the distribution must be fair and must not be skewed in favor of one side. It is the court which decides what constitutes an equitable division of the marital property owned by a couple. This concept not only applies to the splitting up of assets but also to the apportioning of debts incurred jointly by a couple.
2. Factors Affecting Equitable Division Of Marital Assets
As mentioned earlier, there are various factors which affect the equitable sharing of the marital assets between a couple. In order to ensure that both the parties receive fair and just treatment, a court considers the monetary as well as non-monetary contributions made by the two people in a marriage. It will take into account the contributions made towards securing the education and well-being of children. It will also consider the activities carried out by the two sides while caring for the children and the home. The duration of the marriage is also a significant factor. The contribution made by one partner to enhance the education or career of the other is also taken into account. There are other factors like leaving the house to the person who gets the custody of the children until they grow up. Consulting a divorce lawyer in Port Saint Lucie will help in knowing how a specific factor can affect your case.
3. Discovery Of Marital Assets
The process of equitable property division in Florida divorces starts with the discovery of marital assets. This legal procedure is carried out under the supervision of a property division lawyer. The professional provides a written set of questions to both the sides inquiring about their assets and debts. Both the persons have to provide the answers to the queries in writing. All the relevant documents are verified and legal procedures like testifying under oath are used to create a list of all the property and liabilities owned by the couple. The process helps to assess which items were acquired jointly and which were obtained separately by the couple. All the assets and debts are then valued. Items whose valuation is not clear are assessed by relevant professionals.
4. Increase In Value Of Non-marital Assets
Florida law is clear that all non-marital items owned by a person which he/she acquired before the present marriage are his/her exclusive property. The other partner cannot file a claim over the ownership rights of these assets. However, any increase in the value of a separate property after the marriage will be considered as marital property. Let’s say you started a business when you were single. Now after your marriage, you used marital funds to grow the enterprise. In such a scenario, the appreciation will be treated as a marital asset. Even if the contribution of your spouse was not financial, the increase in value will be treated as marital property. For instance, if your wife promoted your business in her social circle which helped you in getting new clients. Then your wife can claim her share in the increased value of your company.
5. Situations In Which Unequal Distribution Is Considered Just
There are some situations in which an unequal distribution will be considered just. This happens only if there is clear evidence of extraordinary factors which necessitate an unequal division. For example, you inherit a large estate which is valued at a huge sum, from your grandfather. Then the court may give a larger share of the marital assets to your spouse.
These are some major points about equitable property division in Florida divorces which you must know. This will help you in understanding how the assets will be legally divided between you and your spouse.