We rarely think about the distribution of property when we get married. But as statistics prove, more and more marriages are today ending in a divorce. Given the frequency of its occurrence, we must know how a divorce will effect us, particularly how our property and assets will be divided. In fact, it is always a good idea to hire a Florida family law attorney before you get married to understand what marital property means and how it can effect you.
Florida property laws
In the US, each State has its own rules on dividing property among the spouses when a divorce occurs. While some States divide all property equally, most States including Florida, follow ‘equitable distribution’ which means that the judge decides on what is a fair distribution. In most cases in Florida as well, an equitable distribution means equal distribution. However, in certain cases this may depend on what the judge decides fair.
What is marital property?
Unless a couple has signed an agreement that states otherwise, a marital property includes all properties and assets that were acquired during the marriage. Other than joint properties, it includes property or assets owned in one spouse’s name. But it is not just assets, the collective ownership also extends to debts. So, marital property will also include debts incurred by one of the spouses.
Since Florida looks at an suitable distribution of property, there are some factors which will be considered when distributing property. A competent Florida family law attorney is essential in ensuring that your interests are protected in such cases. Although Florida is a no fault State, if fault is present and cited as a reason for divorce, it can be considered when distributing property. Grounds for fault include cruelty and adultery.
- In case health and physical condition effects the distribution of property.
- If there is a disparity in the ages of the spouses and if this effects retirement benefits or the ability to earn a livelihood.
- If there is a marked disparity in income or earning capabilities.
- Gifts to the spouse are seen as separate property.
- If there is an expectation of inheriting a property.
Other factors which will be considered are length of a marriage, contribution of each spouse and the presence of any minor children. In fact, property division can become quite contentious in such cases and hiring a Florida family law attorney becomes a must.