When a marriage is dissolved in Florida, the court will equitably divide the parties’ assets and liabilities. For some, this can be a relatively simple procedure, especially when the parties do not heavily dispute the division of assets and liabilities. Sometimes, however, the process can be stressful and complicated, such as when a property must be sold in order to give each party his or her equitable share, or when both parties strongly wish to keep a particular asset.
In a divorce proceeding, the court must address the spouses’ assets and liabilities. This process is called equitable distribution. The court will set aside each party’s non-marital assets and liabilities to that party and then divide the marital assets and liabilities equitably between the spouses. Non-marital assets and liabilities presumptively include, but are not limited to, those acquired or incurred prior to the marriage; assets acquired separately by gift, bequest, devise, or descent; income derived from non-marital assets unless treated as a marital asset; and any asset or liability that the parties agree to consider non-marital. A non-marital asset or liability will also include assets or liabilities acquired or incurred in exchange for these non-marital assets or liabilities. On the contrary, marital assets and liabilities presumptively include those acquired or incurred during the marriage either individually or jointly, active enhancement value of non-marital assets, inter-spousal gifts, jointly titled personal property, and more.
The court will presume that distribution should be equal, unless the parties provide justification for unequal distribution. When requesting unequal distribution, there are several relevant factors, including but not limited to each party’s contribution to the marriage, each party’s economic circumstances, length of the marriage, marital waste, desirability of keeping the marital home for the children, and any factor that would do “equity and justice” between the parties.
The first step is determining what assets and liabilities exist, then determining whether those assets are marital or non-marital. The next step is determining the value of those assets and liabilities. Finally, the marital assets and liabilities must be divided. Having the assistance of an experienced attorney will not only provide guidance when determining what is non-marital versus marital, but also an attorney will become especially critical when determining those difficult assets and liabilities that may have both a marital and non-marital component. The attorneys at Nicole L. Goetz, P.L. can provide you with the legal knowledge and guidance you need to navigate the division of your assets. To discuss the facts of your case in detail, contact our office in Naples, Florida to schedule a confidential consultation.