Divorce is seldom an amicable process and the second most contentious issue is the division of property. In Florida, the courts recognize two types of property – marital and non-marital. They’re divided differently than in other states, since there’s no community property law in Florida.
Marital property encompasses assets obtained during the marriage. Non-marital property includes assets that each individual had prior to the marriage. During a divorce, the court has the final say about what marital property goes to each individual. The division won’t necessarily be a 50-50 split, but it will be a division the court views as equitable.
Determining what is marital and non-marital property is a highly complex process. Property can’t be protected simply by maintaining it in one of the spouse’s name. If one spouse purchases something for themselves with their own money during the marriage, it’s still viewed as marital property.
Appreciation of an asset or business is also considered, along with joint funds that may have been used toward an individual’s pre-marriage property. Gifts are considered marital property and the court will typically divide the value equally, but it may mean the recipient won’t be able to retain ownership. Certain retirement benefits are also subject to division as marital property.
Property acquired prior to a marriage is considered non-marital property, not viewed as part of the marital estate, and remains with the purchaser. Gifts and inheritances can be tricky territory, but they’re generally considered non-marital property, even if they were acquired during the marriage. Couples can also exclude property and assets by mutual agreement when a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is in force.
It’s essential to have the representation of a lawyer experienced in divorce proceedings. In many situations, marital and non-marital assets have been combined or otherwise comingled such as bank accounts and bill paying, which can make divisions more complicated.
During a divorce, the court will also consider and divide any liabilities and debts the couple owes. It’s critical to have an experienced lawyer from the beginning. Once the court has rendered its decision, it will be almost impossible to have any aspect changed or modified.
Whether you need a Divorce, are dealing with Custody or Child Support issues, or need representation in a Personal Injury matter, the Law Offices of Theodore H. Enfield can confidently assist you. To learn more about how we can help you or to discuss the facts of your case with our attorneys, call to schedule your free consultation.