Protecting Your Assets During Divorce
Divorce can be a legally complex process. One of the most confusing aspects (for divorcing couples) often proves to be the division of assets. Understanding Florida’s property division laws is critical to helping divorcing couples get a handle on what they can expect this process to look like. Read on to learn more about the key aspects of divorce-related property division in Florida.
Understanding Equitable Distribution
To understand how the property division process works in Florida, divorcing couples should be familiar with the principle of equitable distribution, which family law courts apply. Under this standard, a couple’s assets are not merely divided right down the middle. Instead, courts look to a variety of factors to come up with a division that is equitable, or fair to both parties. During this analysis, judges will consider each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, the parties’ financial circumstances, and the length of the marriage. How these factors affect an eventual settlement will depend on the specific circumstances of the case.
Marital vs Non-Marital Assets
It’s also important to understand that Florida’s equitable distribution standard only applies to certain assets, namely marital property. Marital property includes only assets that were acquired during the marriage, regardless of who actually purchased or acquired them. This can include everything from vehicles and real estate to the contents of a bank account or retirement funds. Property that was acquired by either party before the marriage took place, however, is defined as non-marital property, which generally means that it is not divisible upon divorce. Inheritances and non-spousal gifts are also categorized as non-marital property, even when acquired during marriage.
When determining what would qualify as an equitable division of marital property, judges look to a specific set of predetermined factors, including:
- The duration of the marriage, with longer marriages tending to result in a more equal distribution of assets;
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, including not only financial contributions, like investments and income, but also responsibility for childcare and household duties;
- The value of each spouse’s individual assets and debts; and
- If the parties share children, how custody and financial responsibility for those children will be divided.
Besides having a thorough understanding of Florida’s equitable distribution laws, there are steps that couples can take to protect their assets during divorce, including:
- Gathering and organizing their financial records to determine ownership;
- Consulting with a qualified attorney;
- Conducting a valuation of both marital and non-marital assets by obtaining professional appraisals;
- Maintaining documentation that proves the separate status of non-marital property;
- Avoiding the commingling of marital and non-marital property; and
- Considering mediation or collaborative divorce to reach a mutually beneficial property division settlement.
For help protecting your assets during divorce, please reach out to our legal team by phone or online message.
An Experienced Florida Property Division Lawyer
Protecting your assets during divorce is not just about financial security, but about safeguarding your future. With the right preparation and legal representation, you and your spouse can navigate the property division process in a way that ensures a fair distribution of your assets. Call 954-945-7591 to speak with experienced Florida property division lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. and get started on your case today.