Divorce is complicated on any number of issues. One of them is property division. Some people think property division should be exactly equal. Other people think if they made more money, (and therefore paid for more things during the course of the marriage) they should get more of the property. Neither of these approaches is necessarily correct. Dividing property in a divorce occurs in stages.
- Identify the Property at Issue
The first step in dividing property during a divorce is identifying the property at issue. Property acquired during the marriage is, by and large, marital property. Similarly, property each person brought in to the marriage is, by and large, non-marital property. For example, if someone enters the marriage with their great grandmother’s 3 carat diamond ring, the ring most likely remains premarital property and is not considered during property division.
Of course, there are some exceptions to this general rule. If one person owns a home before the marriage, and the couple lives in the home after the marriage, some or all of the home may become marital property. Conversely, if someone inherits their great grandmother’s 3 carat diamond ring during the marriage, this most likely will still be considered non-marital property. However, if someone inherits $300,000 during the course of the marriage, whether that money is non-marital or marital property depends other circumstances.
Because there are exceptions and rules, identifying the marital property subject to division, is a critical first step.
- Understand Divorce and Property Division Laws
Regardless of what someone thinks the law should be, people have to approach their divorce under the laws as they actually exist. In the state of Florida, courts start with the premise that property distribution should be equal. However, the law recognizes there are some cases which justify an unequal distribution of property. In this case, property division must be equitable.
Factors that can lead to an unequal distribution include:
- Contributions each spouse makes to the care and education of the children, and as a homemaker
- Each party’s economic circumstances
- The length of the marriage
- Whether one or both parties had their career or educational opportunities interrupted
- Whether one spouse contributed to the career or educational opportunities of the other spouse
- Keeping an asset such as a business or professional practice intact and free from interference by the other spouse
- Each spouse’s contributions to acquiring assets and debts
- The benefit of retaining the marital home for the children of the marriage, when that is in the best interests of the child
- Whether a party wasted, depleted, or destroyed assets within 2 years of filing a divorce petition and
- Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
Do You Need Help with Property Division?
If you and your spouse cannot come to a resolution about how to resolve the division of property, the courts will do it for you. If you are looking for an attorney to assist in negotiating property division, contact the Carolan Family Law Firm, P.A. Our attorneys believe resolving divorce issues peaceably and out of court is almost always in everyone’s best interests. Call us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation at 305-358-2330.