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Florida is one of many states in the U.S. that operates under equitable distribution laws when determining property and assets allocation during the divorce process. Under equitable distribution, property, assets, and liabilities should be split fairly and equitably between ex-spouses.
It's important to note that under equitable distribution, property, assets, and liabilities will not be split 50-50 between ex-spouses unless the court determines that doing so would be a fair and equitable arrangement. A large number of factors dictate what the court classifies as "equitable distribution."
Our Navarre equitable distribution attorney can help you understand how equitable distribution laws apply to your case and reach an arrangement that's beneficial for you.
What Factors Are Considered in Equitable Distribution?
Florida Statute 61.075 lays out the determinants courts consider in equitable distribution arrangements. Courts take into account the following factors when determining equitable distribution:
- How each spouse contributed to the marriage. The court weighs a variety of contributions. Financial support and non-financial support, such as taking care of the home or taking care of children, are both considered by the court.
- The financial circumstances of both parties.
- How long the marriage lasted.
- Whether or not a spouse sacrificed personal opportunities to further the other party's education or career.
- Whether or not a spouse financially supported the other party during training or education that would lead to increased income or opportunities for the other spouse. For example, if you financially supported your spouse during medical school under the expectation they would contribute to the family financially as a doctor, the court may consider the financial support you provided as part of the equitable distribution arrangement.
- How desirable different assets are, including properties and investments. Both the short-term and long-term desirability of assets are weighed during this decision.
- How each spouse contributed to those assets during the marriage. For example, if one spouse were responsible for a majority of financial or property investments, that would be considered.
- How important retaining the marital home is to each spouse and any children involved in the marriage. If children are involved, the court will also consider the benefits of the child remaining in the marital home. Generally, courts prefer to ensure the child remains in the marital home for stability during the stressful divorce process. If one parent has child custody, courts typically provide the marital home to that parent.
- Whether or not any property, assets, or liabilities were purposefully destroyed or sold by one of the parties within two years of the divorce being filed.
- Any other factors the court considers relevant to the case. For example, any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements the parties signed will play an important role in the court's decision-making process.
These determinants dictate how courts will arrange equitable distribution for commingled assets, property, or liability. Separate properties, assets, or liabilities are usually excluded from equitable distribution arrangements. Gifts and inheritances are two examples of common assets that are considered exempt from equitable distribution.
However, other common assets, such as:
- formerly individual bank accounts that the parties now share,
- non-marital income stored in joint bank accounts,
- jointly held personal properties,
- gifts or inheritances dedicated to both parties,
- joint bank accounts, and
- retirement benefits,
may all be considered by the court when determining equitable distribution. Court-appointed appraisers and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) will usually determine the value of assets in a Florida divorce.
Our Navarre equitable distribution attorney can help you understand what properties, assets, and liabilities are exempt or non-exempt from equitable distribution rulings in your divorce.
What Complications Commonly Occur in Equitable Distribution?
Unfortunately, reaching a genuinely fair equitable distribution arrangement isn't always easy. If your ex-spouse:
- holds secret assets or withholds asset information from the court,
- purposefully wastes or depreciates currently held assets,
- purposefully underprices or overprices the value of an asset, or
- inter-mingles non-marital and marital assets,
receiving a fair equitable distribution ruling from the court will be challenging. Hiring an experienced equitable distribution attorney can help you ensure the court is aware of any complications in your court case and reaches a fair equitable distribution arrangement on your behalf.
The Virga Law Firm, P.A. is dedicated to helping you understand the equitable distribution process. Our compassionate, seasoned legal team will work with you throughout your divorce to help you achieve an equitable distribution arrangement that satisfies your needs.
To receive an initial consultation from our legal team, contact us online or call us at (800) 822-5170 to learn more about how we can help you.
Gerard Virga Founding Attorney
David Lohr Executive Director/Attorney
Chad Self Fort Walton Beach Managing Attorney
Tracie Phillips Orlando Managing Attorney
William West Ritchie Panama City Managing Attorney
Taylor Tippel Panama City Beach Managing Attorney
Andrea Ansley Attorney
Christopher Melendez Attorney
April Hand Operations Manager and Florida Registered Paralegal
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