There are many concerns surrounding a divorce. One that creates much anxiety is the issue of dividing property. If you are considering a divorce in Florida, it is helpful to inform yourself before you begin. In this piece, we will discuss how the state divides property and the methods it uses to make these decisions.
Florida’s Property Division Model
Most states in the Union operate under an equitable division model. Florida is among them. In this system, the court uses fairness as the basis for distributing assets. Essentially, it decides who deserves the property the most. Courts are not interested in who paid for it or whose name is on the lease. They distribute property based on who they believe is more entitled to it.
Fairness is subjective. What might seem fair to one appears imbalanced to another. Understanding this, courts use a loose framework to decide who deserves access to which assets. Here are some aspects they will consider.
How Long Did the Marriage Last?
When viewing a marriage, it is important to remember that the law considers the couple a family. Any assets purchased within the marriage, legally speaking, were acquired together. For example, maybe one spouse was a successful entrepreneur, constantly working to build wealth for the family. The other spouse may have had little to no involvement in that business. However, if that spouse was present throughout the building of those riches, the law may seem them as entitled to some of that fortune.
Who Contributed to the Assets?
Sometimes, courts are less concerned with who owns the property than with who managed it. This is often true of the home. Imagine our couple described above. One is the busy entrepreneur, the other is a stay-at-home parent. The business owner spends most of their time working and does very little to help manage the home. The other spouse, however, keeps the house clean. They manage the maintenance in the home and raise the children. Although they may not have contributed financially, they could still be awarded the home as “theirs,” since they cared for it.
One Spouse Supporting the Other
Courts consider the individual incomes of both parties when dividing propery, but they also account for how those incomes became what they are. For example, let’s imagine a marriage of two, full-time workers. One spouse makes twice the income of the other, so that person contributed more to the overall savings in the marriage. Some believe that the division is simple; let each person walk away with what they contributed. However, it’s important to remember how these incomes occurred.
Imagine that the higher-earning party spent a few years going back to school while the other spouse supported them. Once they graduated, they earned the high-paying job. Courts could see this situation and determine that the supportive spouse is entitled to a larger cut of the savings since their support ultimately created more shared wealth.
Can Both Parties Support Themselves?
Imagine the court gives everything only to the person who originally purchased it. The house, car, and savings are all in one spouse’s name. This would leave the other spouse completely destitute, simply because they needed to end their relationship. Courts will not stand for this, and they will probably give more assets to the lesser-earning spouse to keep them sustained.
Did Someone Squander the Assets?
Perhaps one member of the marriage had a gambling problem. Maybe that’s why the marriage is ending. Whatever the case, if either party is guilty of irresponsibility depleting the assets of the marriage, they could be left with very little when the divorce is finalized.
What Is the Final Spousal Support Decision?
In theory, property division and spousal support are two separate matters. One splits the assets that already exist, and the other provides continued support to a spouse who has little income after the divorce. However, courts can use spousal support decisions to influence property division orders. If a spouse receives a great amount of support, they may be entitled to fewer assets. If they receive little monthly support, they may gain more of the marital property.
Speak With an Attorney
If you and your spouse cannot come to terms on property division, you may need to take the matter to court. Because the court focuses its asset decisions on fairness, you need a lawyer who can argue in your favor. You need help proving that you are entitled to your assets and that giving them away is the truly unfair decision.
If you need help defending your property in a divorce, contact our office for a free consultation. Our number is (407) 315-2006, and you can reach us online.