Going through a divorce can be an extremely emotional and stressful event. One of the most contentious parts of a divorce is often the division of marital assets. If you are facing a divorce in Florida and need assistance with the division of your marital property, Koberlein Law Offices can help.
Equitable Division and What it Means for Division of Assets
Florida, like most states in the country, follows the laws of equitable distribution when dividing assets following a divorce. In equitable distribution, separate "non-marital property" stays with the individual who owned the property before the marriage; inheritance, for example, is considered non-marital property, and would thus not be subject to division in a divorce.
Marital property consists of all assets and debts acquired by each spouse during the period of time in which the parties were married. Marital property can include obvious assets such as a home, furnishings, and family vehicles. In addition, however, marital assets can include life insurance policies, retirement plans, tax refunds, and even pets. Additionally, property that might once have been considered separate property may convert into marital property if the property becomes intertwined--or "commingled"--with marital property. For example, separate bank accounts may be converted into marital property if marital expenses such as mortgage payments and utility bills were paid with the account.
No matter the type, if property is deemed to be marital property, it is subject to equitable division in a Florida divorce. Equitable division does not necessarily mean that both parties receive an equal share of the property; rather, how property is divided in a divorce in Florida is based on what a judge believes is fair to the parties. In order to determine what is fair to both parties with regard to the division of property, a court will consider a multitude of factors, including:
- The length of the marriage;
- The financial situation of both parties;
- Each spouse's contributions to the relationship; including contributions which are not financial in nature;
- Interruptions in a spouse's career or education, if any;
- Debts and liabilities incurred by each spouse; and
- Whether a spouse wasted marital assets in the two years before the divorce proceeding was filed.
How Certain Factors Affect Division of Marital Property
While the factors listed above can have an impact on how property is divided between a divorcing couple in Florida, potential financial help from a former spouse can also have an impact on the division of property. Such financial assistance can include:
- Alimony: whether a party in a divorce is awarded alimony from the other spouse can have an impact on how property is divided between the two parties. If a husband is ordered to pay alimony to his wife, for example, then a court may determine that it is equitable to award the husband more marital assets to offset the burden that the husband faces by paying alimony. An award in alimony is not set in stone, however; changes in a party's circumstances can warrant a review of alimony. The most common reasons for changes or termination of alimony include changes in health, loss of a job, significant salary increases and remarriage of the party receiving alimony.
- Child support: much like alimony, an award of child support to one party by another party in a divorce can affect the court's decision in dividing marital assets between the two parties. If a wife is ordered to pay child support to her husband to assist in the care of the parties' children, for example, a court may find that it is equitable to award the wife more marital assets than the husband due to the child support the husband is receiving.
While the factors listed above aren't the only factors that a court will take into account when dividing marital assets, they are some of the most important considerations for how a court will divide property.
Dividing Retirement Assets
Often one of the most contentious issues of equitable divisions or property division in a divorce is the division of a person's retirement assets. In the state of Florida, determining whether a retirement plan is subject to division in a divorce proceeding depends on the type of retirement plan that is in question. As a general rule, however, pensions and retirement plans are subject to equitable division in a divorce, even though such plans are only in one party's name. This is because contributions to a retirement plan during the marriage is considered a marital asset.
When retirement plans are divided, tax consequences must sometimes be considered. Distributions of retirement accounts are taxable and are usually subject to a penalty for early withdrawals if one applies. Your divorce attorney can explain to you the consequences of dividing retirement accounts and how such a division will affect you.
Need Help with Your Divorce? Contact Us Today
The road to a divorce is a tough one, but not one that you have to traverse alone. The team of family law attorneys at the Koberlein Law Offices has assisted countless individuals through some of the most trying times of their lives, and are standing by to help you through your difficult situation as well. Don't try to handle a divorce on your own--especially if your spouse has retained an attorney. Our attorneys are here to help you navigate the waters of your divorce, no matter how tough the path gets. To speak with an attorney about the specifics of your divorce, fill out an online contact form or call one of our offices today.