Divorce & How to Divide Your Assets

You’ve Had the Talk.  All the Cards Are on the Table and Divorce is Inevitable.  For some couples, the process of divorce and how to divide your assets may happen without trouble, but typically, it is not a straight-forward process. What does the Florida law say about dividing property at divorce? You can find that information all over the internet; however, if you are currently faced with a divorce situation, you do not need an attorney if you can try to resolved your issues and are self-represented.  More importantly, if you should have children, learning how to co-parent is very important.  South Florida Legal Doc Prep Services, LLC has over 25 years paralegal experience and can be your divorce legal document preparer.  We can help you prepare all the appropriate divorce documents regarding your dissolution of marriage, child support, financial affidavit, parenting plan, time-sharing, etc. in a matter of days at a fraction of the price an attorney would charge. 

Dividing Property Should Be Equitable

Florida is an equitable ownership state.  This means that the law and according to FindLaw.com says that property should be divided fairly among the parties at divorce.  “Fairly” usually means “equal”, but a Florida judge can consider any proportion split after considering all of the relevant factors.

Some aspects that might influence a judge are:

      •        The length of the marriage
      •        If there are still children in the marital home
      •        The economic circumstances of both the parties to the divorce
      •        Contributions to the marriage from both sides – was one a homemaker
      •        A spouse’s contribution to the career path of the other spouse
      •        How income was acquired
      •        How marital assets were improved and by which spouse
      •        What liabilities were incurred and by which spouse
      •        If a spouse deliberately destructed marital assets after the divorce was filed or within two years prior

Some Assets are Challenging to Divide

The Home

It is not possible to divide a marital home in a Florida divorce physically, but a judge can order the selling thereof and the division of the proceeds.

A Business

A business can be a marital asset.  In most cases, a judge will award a business to the operating spouse.  The other spouse will be eligible for other property or money to make up for the loss of the company.

Marital Assets and “Separate” Property

The property division in a Florida divorce can be complicated further by marital and non-marital property. Only property that spouses obtained, individually and together, during the marriage, fall under marital assets.

Examples of Marital Assets

Florida law states that marital assets can include annuities, profit-sharing benefits, pension, retirement funds, delayed compensation, and insurance.  Any gifts between spouses are marital assets.

Separate Property

If a spouse owned something before marriage, inherited it or received a gift separately, the property is non-marital. 

Examples include:

      •      Assets (or debts) defined in a written agreement as separate
      •     Income from a totally separate property and items purchased with that money

Separate Not Always Clear-Cut

Non-Marital property can increase in value throughout a marriage due to the contribution of both spouses.  That increase is marital property.  If one spouse owned a business before he/she was married, he/she will only be entitled to the value of the company as it was just before he/she got married.  Any value increase would be marital property, and the parties should equally divide it.

It is Not Always Clear Who Owns What

      •     A pre-marital bank account can become marital property if both spouses used it and made deposits into the account
      •     If one spouse owned a home, it can be considered marital goods if both spouses paid the mortgage and other operating expenses during the time that they were married

It is here where things can get ugly.  It will be up to the court to decide if the commingled property was a “gift to the marriage” or not.

Next Steps to Dividing Property

Adding Value

As soon as it is clear what property is marital, each item will get a “price tag”.  In some cases, couples do it themselves, whereas in other cases, the Florida court will assign a value.  Some assets, especially real financial ones, such as retirement funds, can be challenging to put a value on.  An actuary or another financial professional can help.

One For You – One For Me

Spouses can now divide assets by separating items according to their value and allotting items to each spouse.  If one spouse gets significantly more than the other, they must negotiate an equalizing payment.  Spouses must also divide any debt that they may have.

Conclusion

A Florida divorce is no joke.  It is a harrowing and an emotional journey.  At South Florida Legal Doc Prep Services, LLC we understand.  You are most likely inundated, and you may have many questions.

We are here to help.  Our experienced staff can discuss your situation and help you prepare the appropriate documents.

Contact us today for a free quote