Different states have different rules on how to divide property for a divorce. One state that encourages an equitable division of assets is Florida. This means a spouse will receive a fair division of property. Want to know exactly what you’re entitled to? You must learn what constitutes a marital asset in a Florida divorce.
Read on to learn more.
What is a Marital Asset in a Florida Divorce?
The distribution of marital assets is important to both parties. If a couple has experienced many years or decades together, there will likely be many assets to assess and divide. There are clear guidelines for marital assets in Florida divorce law.
Equitable distribution ensures each spouse will receive their fair share of their property. Yet, it’s important to note that this doesn’t mean that there will always be a 50/50 split of the marital assets. The court will start with a 50/50 presumption. Yet, they can apply legal statutes and rules, with the aim to make the division of assets fairer.
The Florida Statutes
The 2016 Florida Statutes offers clear guidelines for the division of marital assets in a divorce.
The Florida Statutes makes it clear that marital property is determined by:
Assets Acquired During the Marriage
If an asset was either bought or acquired during a marriage, the court will view this as marital property.
It doesn’t matter if one of both parties bought or acquired the property.
Interspousal Gifts During the Marriage
Many spouses like to give each other gifts throughout their marriage. This will be viewed as a marital asset.
For example, diamond jewelry or a new car will be seen as marital property and will be subject to division.
Certain Retirement Benefits
Both vested and non-vested retirement benefits are marital assets in a Florida divorce.
Funds accumulated during a marriage (retirement/insurance plans) are also martial assets.
In most cases, a judge will divide an insurance or retirement plan between both parties.
Real and Personal Property Held as Tenants by the Entireties
If both parties hold property as tenants by entireties, this will be viewed as a marital asset.
Tenants by the entireties is a unique ownership that’s only applicable to married couples.
Enhancement of Value and Appreciate of Non-Marital Assets
Florida law doesn’t care whether one spouse or both acquired an asset. Even if the property is in one person’s name, the asset will still belong to both parties.
For example, if a partner has bought a car in his or her name solely, it will still be classified as a marital asset.
Has a non-marital asset been improved upon during a marriage? A judge will review the statute of enhancement in the value of non-marital property.
Yet, a partner will not have an equal right to the non-marital asset in a Florida divorce. The judge will consider the current property value and the value before marriage.
The cost of improvements and increased property value will be included in the marital asset.
What Constitutes a Non-Marital Asset?
There are some assets that a party will not have access to in a Florida divorce.
A non-marital asset will include:
- Assets acquired before a marriage
- Any income from non-marital assets (such as real estate properties bought before marriage) that is kept in a separate account
- Properties acquired either from inheritance or a non-interspousal gift
Commingling of Property
The lines of marital and non-marital assets can often become blurry if two spouses have commingled.
What is commingling? It’s combining non-marital assets with marital assets.
For instance, a spouse may add a partner to his or her bank account. Their partner can then access the account as their own, paying marital expenses and bills.
In some Florida divorce cases, both parties may be able to agree on an amount of the marital assets. If so, a court will more than likely agree with their amicable decision.
Yet, if both parties fail to reach an agreement, a judge will have no choice but to determine a fair division of an asset.
Assessing Asset Value
Once the court has determined the marital property, monetary value will be given to each item. Either the court or the couple can assign the value.
If a couple does not know how to assign the value, they can hire a professional appraiser to do it for them.
Other financial assets might be hard to evaluate. A financial professional can assign the value to a complex asset, such as an insurance plan.
Liabilities and Debts
The court will not only fairly divide marital assets. A judge will also fairly divide liabilities and debts between both parties. Again, they will decipher the liabilities and debts as marital and non-marital.
How much a person receives will often depend on when and who acquired the debt. If it is a non-marital debt, the spouse who took out the debt will be responsible for all repayments.
Yet, if the debt was a marital debt, both parties will more than likely be ordered to continue the repayments. Alternatively, a judge may order for some marital assets to be sold to repay the debt.
Divorce is never easy, regardless of your state.
Unfortunately, Florida has one of the highest divorce rates in the US.
There is often a considerable amount of money and property involved. There may even be children both spouses will want to protect. With so many assets on the line, it’s easy for some parties to become less than amicable. Florida divorce law aims to provide both parties with a fair share of their assets.
Unfortunately, not every party may always feel they have received their rightful share.
Our goal is to help you avoid costly high-conflict divorces, so you can move on with your life as soon as possible. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.