How Does Florida Divide Property in a Divorce?

When couples in FL decide to part ways, the division of their shared life, especially their property, becomes a central concern. Florida's approach to this division is known as “equitable distribution.” This model aims for fairness rather than an automatic, 50/50 split.

The concept of equitable distribution is rooted in the understanding that marriage is a partnership where both parties contribute in various ways. As such, the dissolution should reflect those contributions and needs.

Equitable distribution is not concerned with who paid for something or whose name is on the lease. It’s focused on who the “rightful” owner of the property is. For instance, if a spouse uses the car for work and most of the family’s errands, they will probably be able to keep the car, even if they never made a financial contribution to it.

What Equitable Distribution Means for Divorcing Parties

This distribution model evaluates the entire marital history and each spouse's future needs.

In equitable distribution, the court considers a myriad of factors, such as:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • The economic circumstances of each spouse
  • The contributions made by each party, both financial and non-financial

This framework ensures that the final division is tailored to the unique situation of the divorcing couple rather than applying a one-size-fits-all solution.

How Contributions to the Marriage Influence Distribution

Contributions to marriage are not merely financial. They also encompass a broad range of inputs that have supported the marital union. For instance, imagine a spouse who halted their career advancement to support the family or nurture the home. They could expect this sacrifice to be recognized in the division of assets.

Similarly, if one spouse has contributed to the other's professional education or business growth, the court will consider these investments when allocating marital property. The goal is to honor the full spectrum of contributions, ensuring that both parties leave the marriage with a settlement that acknowledges their individual and joint efforts.

Marital vs. Non-Marital Assets and Debts

Identifying Marital Property

Marital property generally includes all assets and debts acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the title or account. Such property can include real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, and debts.

The law assumes that both parties have contributed equally to accumulating these assets, whether through financial means or other forms of support.

Distinguishing Non-Marital Property

Conversely, non-marital property belongs solely to one spouse. It usually includes property someone owned before the marriage or assets they received as an inheritance or personal gift. These assets are generally shielded from the equitable distribution process, provided they have been kept separate from marital assets.

However, the distinction can become blurred. For instance, inheritance money can become commingled with marital funds.

Impact of Alimony on Asset Division

Spousal support decisions can significantly influence the division of marital assets. In Florida, alimony is intended to provide financial support to a spouse who may have a lower earning capacity. When alimony is factored in, courts may adjust asset distribution to account for the financial support one spouse will be receiving or providing.

Creating Your Own Asset Division Plan

Alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation and negotiation can play a vital role in property division settlements.

Mediation, in particular, offers a less adversarial approach, allowing both parties to discuss and resolve issues with the help of a neutral third party. Attorney negotiation is another pathway to settlement. Legal counsel advocates for their client's interests while working towards a mutually acceptable agreement.

Both methods can save time, reduce costs, and allow for more flexible and creative solutions than a court-ordered division.

Orshan, Spann & Fernandez-Mesa can help protect your assets in a divorce. You can schedule time with our team by contacting us online or calling us directly at (305) 853-9161.