The division of the assets and debts of a marriage, known in Florida as Equitable Distribution can for obvious reasons be an extremely contentious part of the divorce procedure. If the parties to a divorce are unable to agree upon an equitable or fair division of the marital assets and debts, then the court will decide for them. First, the court must identify the parties' marital assets and debts pursuant to Florida Statue §61.075(3). Marital property is generally defined as any property and assets that have been accumulated during the marriage. Property and assets that you acquired before the marriage are not usually deemed marital property except for several different exceptions. For example, if you owned a house before you met your spouse, but you and your spouse both put money and time into developing the property, or if both names are on the title, then all or a portion of that property may be considered divisible. If you have questions about whether you have a right to retain property or assets after your divorce, you need to speak with a family law attorney. You do have legal rights and obligations regarding your property, and it is in your best interests to be fully informed.
The discussion of equitable distribution can result in arguments and tensions on both sides of the divorce case. You have a right to protect your property, whether objects, heirlooms, assets, real property, non-interspousal gift or other type of non-marital property. A family law attorney can help ensure that you keep what is legally yours when you go through your divorce. We will work with you and our goal will be to cooperate with the other side as much as possible. If we can't come to an agreement, then we will take the case to trial. We always attempt to work together and collaborate with the other side, but we have the litigation experience necessary to take your case all the way to trial if that is required.
Florida Statute §61.075(1) mandates that the court begin with the presumption that the parties' marital assets and debts will be divided equally. This however, is as rebuttable presumption, and the statute lays out reasons why a court may find that an equitable distribution of the marital assets and debts is unequal distribution wherein one party receives more of the assets and/or fewer of the debts than the other party. The factors that the court is allowed to consider are as follows:
- the contribution to the marriage by each spouse;
- the economic circumstances of the parties;
- the duration of the marriage;
- any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party;
- the contribution of one spouse to the personal, career, or educational opportunities of the other spouse;
- the desirability of retaining any asset, including interest in a business, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party;
- the contribution of each spouse ot the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital non-marital assets of the parties;
- the desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent children of the marriage, or any other party, when it would be equitable to do so, it is in the best interest of the children or that party, and it is financially feasible for the parties to maintain the residence until the child is emancipated or until exclusive possession is otherwise terminated;
- the intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition or within two years prior thereto; and
- any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
We understand that it is important to you and your family that the property distribution between you and your spouse is as fair as possible. We work closely with our clients to attempt to resolve their cases amicably in order to reduce their legal bill and their risk at trial. However, our law from is a skilled at trial and will aggressively protect your rights in trial, if necessary.