While dividing assets during a divorce, Florida courts will apply the theory of equitable division. Equitable is slightly different from equal in the eyes of the law.
A Florida judge may believe that an arithmetically equal division is unfair in a particular case, and may divide the assets in a different proportion after taking into consideration various factors.
Factors Considered while Dividing Property in a Divorce
Whether it is a question of dividing the typical marital assets such as a house, jewelry, and cash, or more complex assets such as stock options after divorce, Florida family court will consider a number of factors, such as:
- How long did the marriage last
- Financial circumstances of each party
- Contributions of each spouse to the marriage (which also includes contributions as a parent or homemaker)
- Contributions of each spouse to income
- Contributions of each spouse to improve marital or separate property
- Whether marital or non-marital assets were affected by the debts incurred by either party
- Intended dissipation of marital assets by either spouse after the filing of the divorce petition or within two years before such filing
While dividing assets during divorce, a Florida court will also look at how simple or complicated it is to divide a particular asset. For instance, the judge will consider how to split stocks in a divorce where the stock is of an unlisted company or a startup and it is difficult to assign a current value to the stock.
Another issue that may commonly arise is the division of business assets. Even if the business was launched after marriage by one spouse, the judge may decide to award the entire business assets to the operating spouse. The other spouse may receive cash or property to make up for it.
Dividing a Marital Home
In Florida, the court will not order a divorcing couple to physically divide a marital home (which means, the couple will not be asked to take a portion of the actual house.) The judge will instead order both parties to sell the house and split the proceeds.
In some cases, the judge may award one party the right to live temporarily in a marital home, if they find it to be the most equitable approach. While using this option, the court will also carefully consider whether it will benefit a child who is still in school.
Non-Marital Property Is Not Divided
Under Florida law, a property is separate or non-marital, if a spouse owned it prior to marriage, or acquired it by inheritance or as a gift (not from the other spouse) during marriage. Non-marital assets also include:
- Assets that the parties have specified in a legal agreement as a non-marital property
- Items exchanged for or bought with non-marital property
- Income from non-marital property (except when the spouses have treated it as marital property)
Property title is a key consideration while dividing property in a divorce. Florida law has a strong presumption that all personal or real property that the parties hold as “tenants by the entireties” will be considered as marital property, irrespective of when it was acquired.
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