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How will the Florida courts split your possessions and debts?

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2020 | Divorce |

Divorce is not a winner-take-all prospect, even though many people like to approach it in that manner. While every state has its own rules about how they handle everything from custody to formal separation and the division of marital assets, it is generally true that the goal of family law is to produce a fair and reasonable outcome.

Unfortunately, that means that many family law matters get decided on a case-by-case basis, which could make it difficult for those contemplating divorce to know what implications the end of their marriage may truly have.

Although predicting the exact outcome of property division proceedings is impossible barring the presence of a marital contract like a prenuptial agreement, it is possible to roughly estimate the likely outcome once you understand Florida’s laws.

Florida applies the equitable distribution standard to marital property

Florida is one of many states that has adopted the equitable distribution standard for property division in modern divorces. Equitable means fair, as in equity, not equal. In other words, what is equitable isn’t always a 50-50 split.

Instead, the courts need to look carefully at the family circumstances to figure out what will be fair for both partners. The length of the marriage, the standard of living both parties enjoy, the current and likely future earning potential of each spouse, and the custody of children can all influence how the courts allocate marital assets and debts during a Florida divorce.

The date of acquisition will likely influence if an asset gets divided

One thing that often confuses people about what property is subject to division is how the state determines what is marital property and what is separate property. Some people think incorrectly that separate property is property in their name only.

However, you can open a bank account during your marriage and fund it with income that is technically marital property without adding your spouse to that account. Even though their name is not on the account, they will likely receive a portion of the value of that account in the divorce, as the funds deposited into the account constitute marital property.

Assets owned outright prior to marriage, gifts and inheritances typically remain separate property, but most everything else you acquired during the marriage could wind up getting split by the courts.