When you are going through a divorce, you know you will need to divide your assets eventually. But does that always mean that you get half and your ex-spouse gets the other half? In the state of Florida, the answer unfortunately a bit more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no.”
Florida is an “equitable distribution,” state. This means that “the court shall set apart each spouse’s non-marital assets and liabilities, and in distributing the marital assets and liabilities between the parties, the court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal.”
Understanding Marital and Non-marital Assets
What’s the difference between non-marital and marital assets? In general terms Assets acquired before the marriage are considered non-marital assets and will not be divided in the divorce. Also, assets acquired by inheritance, gift from another or in exchange for a premarital asset is non-marital even if acquired during the marriage. However these assets may become marital by gift or commingling. Assets acquired during the marriage will be divided equally among the two parties. A Weston divorce lawyer can help you understand how the differences apply in your case.
Non-marital assets include property given to you as an individual, either before or during the marriage under certain circumstances. Other types of non-marital assets include gifts, inheritances, and income derived from non-marital assets that was not shared in the marriage. A prenuptial agreement may define non-marital assets for each spouse.
Marital assets include the following:
- both real and personal property
- gifts exchanged between spouse
- appreciation or enhancement value of assets
- business income
- workers’ compensation benefits
- insurance benefits
- pension benefits
- social security income
- stock options
- interest income
Basically, marital assets include whatever each spouse acquires during the marriage. For example, if you open a credit card in your name only during the marriage, both of you may be responsible for the charges simply because you acquired the debt during the marriage.
Assets which were originally non-marital can even become commingled with marital assets. An example of this is merging an individual bank account into a joint bank account. To prove that the money was yours in the beginning, you must be able to provide financial records as evidence.
Why Might Marital Assets Be Unequally Divided?
Some factors can lead to the unequal division of marital assets. The Florida laws include these variables:
- Length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, including contributions to children and the home
- Each spouse’s finances
- Contributions to a spouse’s education or career advancement
- Contributions of each spouse to nonmarital assets
- Retaining the marital home for dependent children
- Other relevant issues
If a division is deemed unfair to one spouse, the court may designate responsibility to only one of the spouses. For example, if one spouse racks up debt on a credit card in his or her name only, the courts may decide that it is a debt the responsible spouse needs to repay.
The division of assets is difficult and painful, and it gets more complicated the longer you’ve been married. A divorce attorney who is familiar with Florida law will protect your rights. They will help you understand which assets are non-marital and marital, and work to retain what belongs to you. Make sure to contact a knowledgeable Weston divorce attorney as soon as possible to get the help you need.