Division of Marital Assets and Liabilities
In the State of Florida, assets and debts acquired during a marriage are generally divided equitably during a divorce. However, not every asset or debt is marital. Non-marital assets may include property that was acquired prior to the marriage and has been kept separate and apart from all marital assets, as well as income or appreciation in value of non-marital property. An inheritance given to only one person, and assets intentionally kept separate throughout the marriage, may also be non-marital property. Marital assets that must be divided include cars, houses, retirement benefits, business interests, cash, investments, bank accounts and personal property. Marital debts that must be divided during the divorce process consist of mortgages, lines of credit, car loans, credit card and charge accounts, promissory notes, and other debts. Typically, student loans remain the obligation of the person who incurred the student loan and for whose benefit the loans were incurred.
Florida statues and case law requires that all marital assets and liabilities be "equitably distributed." This does not necessarily mean divided equally. Dividing assets and debts equitably means taking into account any factors that justify splitting them in a way other than 50/50. The court may also consider each party's contributions during the marriage by means of homemaking and education of children; the duration of the marriage; disruption of personal successes such as personal careers or educational opportunities due to the birth of child(ren) and otherwise; contributions of one spouse to the other spouse's career or education; and the existence of any prenuptial or premarital agreements.
When assigning ownership of a family home ,the court must take into account both the equity paid into the home and the debt that remains. In addition to addressing issues of fair value, a Florida divorce court will likely consider whether it would be financially feasible for one or both parties to keep the home. If there are children, the court may also consider their best interests.
Dividing assets can be emotionally difficult, especially in a contested divorce. The Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyers at J. Scott Gunn, P.A., help clients with the difficult task of sorting through their finances and coming to a fair agreement by protecting the things that matter most to them. Our divorce attorneys in Fort Lauderdale also help clients avoid unpleasant surprises later by avoiding or educating them on the tax and debt consequences of dividing their marital property. Finally, when settlements cannot be reached, the experienced Fort Lauderdale family law attorneys at J. Scott Gunn, P.A. are prepared to take your matter to trial and obtain a fair and just result on your behalf.