Property division is one of the most common sources of dispute during a Florida divorce. People can disagree as to who is the rightful owner of various items whether they were acquired before or during the marriage. This is true regardless of what the law specifically says about how ownership is determined and the way in which property and debts are allocated – people will still want to share or receive all the property. It is important to know what the law says about these situations. In Florida, the law states that property is subject to “equitable distribution.” People may misinterpret that to mean it will be equally divided. That is not the case.
Contested divorces and how it impacts property division
The court strives to split property in a way it deems fair. That is not necessarily equal. When the parties disagree on how to allocate property, the court will assess the evidence and decide. In any situation – whether there is a dispute or not – the court will look at: spousal contributions; the economic circumstances; how long the marriage lasted; if one party or the other interrupted a career or schooling to further the other’s goals; if one party or the other wants to retain the property like a business free from interference of the other; how much the spouses contributed to the income, acquisition and improvement of the marital assets and non-marital assets; the marital home and who wants to retain it; and if marital assets were wasted in the two years prior to the divorce filing.
To try and come to a fair resolution to the dispute, the court will identify non-marital assets and ownership interests in them. For example, if one spouse owned the home in which the couple lived in during the marriage and that spouse wants to retain it but the other spouse contributed to it with maintenance, repairs and mortgage payments during the marriage, this will be factored in when deciding how to split it. Liabilities will also be considered such as credit card bills, auto payments and other debts.
Professional advice can help with complex property division
In a divorce, it is generally better for the couple to negotiate and settle matters on their own. If that is unrealistic, the case will be subject to the court’s assessments and determinations. To protect assets and receive an acceptable split of the property, it is important to be fully shielded from the start. Before engaging in a contentious debate with the other party, having legal guidance can be essential. Consulting with those experienced in all areas of family law is useful from the outset.