Getting a fair outcome in a pending divorce requires knowledge of both state law and your household. The better that you understand the assets and debts that you and your spouse hold, as well as Florida’s family law system, the more realistic your expectations about property division will be.
The first thing you need to understand is that the courts have interpretive power when it comes to the statutes regarding property division in a divorce. There is no way to accurately predict all of the details of asset division unless you have a marital agreement or set the terms with your ex before filing.
Once you understand how the state divides your assets and what assets they split up, it will be easier to develop a rough estimate of the outcome.
Florida aims for fairness with equitable distribution
Each state has the authority to set its own rules regarding the distribution of assets during a divorce. Florida is one of many states that uses the equitable distribution standard. The law instructs judges to divide up marital property in a manner that is just and fair.
They consider everything from both spouses’ individual incomes to unpaid work they’ve done for the family and medical conditions that might impact their earning potential. It’s important to know that only marital property gets divided, so determining what property is marital and what property is separate is a critical step in a pending divorce.
How do you know what is marital and what is not?
There is a noteworthy degree of nuance involved in establishing property as separate or marital property. However, there are a few guidelines that can help you make sense of your property.
Marital property usually includes everything that you acquire during your marriage unless you have a marital agreement already in place. Everything you purchase and everything you earn during your marriage, in theory, belongs to both you and your spouse. The same rule applies to your debts.
Assets and debts that you held before you got married might remain your separate property, although sharing those assets or giving your spouse control over them might alter that. Inheritances and gifts are also often separate property. Again, you have to be careful to protect your interest in those assets by not sharing control or ownership of them with your spouse directly.
Discussing your family circumstances, your property and your concerns with a Florida attorney even before you file for divorce can give you a better idea of what will likely occur.