MARITAL PROPERTY DIVISION IN FLORIDA
Equitable distribution refers to the way that spouses in Florida divide their property and debts when they divorce. While some states have community property rules requiring an exactly equal division of marital property and debts, most states require only a fair, or equitable, division. An equitable division in Florida will many times mean an equal division.
HOW DOES EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION WORK?
The procedure to be followed by Courts when distributing property in dissolution of marriage cases is found in Section 61.075 (1) (a) Florida Statutes. Initially, the court must classify all assets and liabilities owned by the parties, either jointly or individually, as either marital or nonmarital. Once this classification is complete, the court must distribute to each spouse the other spouse's nonmarital assets and liabilities. Thereafter, marital assets and liabilities must be distributed in accordance with various factors, some of which are found in the statute.
The statute requires that a Court in determining an equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution based on all relevant factors, including:
The contribution to the marriage by each spouse,
The economic circumstances of the Parties,
The duration of the marriage,
Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either Party,
The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other spouse,
The desirability of retaining any asset intact and free from any claim or interference by the other Party,
The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income for the improvement of both marital assets and nonmarital assets of the Parties,
The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent children,
The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets,
Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the Parties.
MARITAL v. NONMARITAL PROPERTY
Assets and liabilities acquired or incurred during the marriage, individually or jointly, are presumed to be marital. A party wishing to overcome this presumption must prove that the asset or liability is nonmarital. The test for determining whether assets are marital is not how they are titled, but whether they were acquired legally and beneficially during the marriage by one or both of the parties. Liabilities incurred during the marriage will be deemed marital despite one party's ignorance of the liabilities.
A SPOUSE CAN CHANGE SEPARATE PROPERTY INTO MARITAL PROPERTY BY CHANGING THE TITLE INTO A FORM OF JOINT OWNERSHIP. A FLORIDA COURT WILL PRESUME THAT ANY PROPERTY A COUPLE OWNS AS "TENANTS BY THE ENTIRETIES" AS MARITAL PROPERTY, EVEN IF ONE SPOUSE ACQUIRED THE PROPERTY SEPARATELY BEFORE MARRIAGE.
INCREASE IN VALUE
The increase in value of separate property during the marriage is also marital property if it resulted from the contribution of marital funds or the active efforts of either spouse. This includes efforts such as maintaining a home or working in a business. A spouse can also make a gift of separate property to the marriage by mixing it with marital property, sometimes called commingling.
Commingling can happen by depositing marital funds into a premarital bank account or paying the mortgage on a separate property with marital earnings. In such situations, a court might treat all of the property as marital. The spouse claiming separate property would have the burden of demonstrating through detailed financial records the separate source of the funds that were utilized. These situations can prove to be very complicated.
GET HELP WITH MARITAL PROPERTY DIVISION
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