Tampa Property Division Lawyer
Getting divorced involves dividing up all the property the parties acquired during the marriage. It also requires deciding how marital debts will be distributed. In the best of cases, the parties can decide between themselves how to divide the marital assets and debt. Even though this can be a complicated and complex process, it often ends in a result that is more satisfactory with each party getting what is most important to them and feeling they were treated fairly. If the parties can’t agree on a property settlement, which is not uncommon, it will be up to the judge to decide.. According to Florida law, the judge must make an equitable distribution of marital property, which means the court does not need to divide property equally (Florida is not a community property state), so long as the judge believes the result is fair and in accordance with the law. Having dedicated representation on your side is essential to ensuring a fair and equitable result.
Below is a look at some of the most important issues that impact the division of property in a Florida divorce, along with a description of how the family law attorneys at Westchase Law P.A. can help. For advice and representation in the property distribution and other aspects of your Florida divorce, call our Tampa property division lawyers today.
How Courts Determine Marital Property
Florida law defines marital assets and liabilities as well as nonmarital assets and liabilities. According to the Florida Statute §61.075, marital assets and liabilities include:
- Assets acquired and liabilities incurred during the marriage, whether jointly or individually;
- The enhancement in value and appreciation of nonmarital assets during the marriage due to the efforts of either party or the contribution of marital funds or other marital assets;
- The paydown of principal on a home loan/mortgage secured by nonmarital real property paid down from marital funds;
- Interspousal gifts during the marriage;
- Vested and nonvested interests in retirement, pension, profit-sharing and similar plans; and
Nonmarital assets and liabilities, on the other hand, are defined to include:
- Assets acquired and liabilities incurred by either party before the marriage, and assets acquired and liabilities incurred in exchange for such pre-marriage assets and liabilities;
- Assets acquired separately by either party by non-interspousal gift or inheritance, and assets acquired in exchange for such assets;
- All income derived from nonmarital assets during the marriage unless the income was treated, used, or relied upon by the parties as a marital asset;
- Assets and liabilities excluded from marital assets and liabilities by valid agreement of the parties, and assets acquired and liabilities incurred in exchange for such assets and liabilities;and
- Any liability incurred by forgery or unauthorized signature of one spouse signing the name of the other spouse.
As noted above, the differences between marital and nonmarital property are not always clear-cut. Nonmarital property can be commingled with marital property and lose its nonmarital character and, the increase in value of nonmarital property can be characterized as a marital asset. To avoid costly litigation
in determining what is marital versus nonmarital, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can determine in advance how certain property will be characterized in a divorce. Our team of expert and experienced family law attorneys can help ensure that marital and nonmarital property is properly characterized so that it can be retained or divided appropriately.
How Courts Determine Equitable Distribution
Once it has been established which property and debt is marital and which is nonmarital, the court begins the task of dividing the marital property and debts between the parties. The court is required by law to start with the premise that the distribution should be equal. However, the court can make an unequal distribution if the judge finds it appropriate after considering “all relevant factors.” Florida law sets out ten relevant factors as follows:
- The contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as homemaker;
- The economic circumstances of the parties;
- The duration of the marriage;
- Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party;
- The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other spouse;
- The desirability of retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, corporation, or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party;
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the nonmarital assets of the parties;
- The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent children of the marriage or any other party;
- The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets by either party after the filing of the petition or within two years before the filing of the petition; and
- Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
At Westchase Law P.A., our divorce lawyers are well-versed in the above factors and will take the time to analyze how each factor applies to your case. Whether you are arguing for or against an unequal distribution of marital property, our attorneys will be ready to present forceful arguments in support of your position in or out of court.
Contact Westchase Law P.A. Today
Arriving at a fair outcome in the property division is one of the most important and complex aspects of a divorce. The family law experts at Westchase Law P.A. will help make sure you are fairly represented in the property division and that you retain the property most important to you if at all possible. Contact our experienced family law attorneys today.