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Can Unmarried Couples Go to Court Over Property Division?


People say that marriage is just a piece of paper, but that piece of paper makes all the difference in a divorce case.  Florida does not recognize common law marriage.  Unless you and your spouse have a legally valid marriage certificate, nothing that either of you has bought during your marriage counts as marital property, and neither does any income either spouse has earned.  The difference between a divorce and an annulment might sound like a matter of semantics, especially if you and your spouse have lived together for years and have children together, but it determines whether the parties are entitled to equitable distribution and whether either of them can receive alimony.  The rules about parenting time and child support are the same regardless of the marital status or cohabitation of the parents, but the family court will not get involved in your dispute over property that you shared with your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend; that is just a plain old civil lawsuit, like former business partners suing each other over business debts.  To resolve property division issues with your spouse and think clearly before you bring financial entanglements into a post-divorce dating relationship, contact a Boca Raton divorce lawyer.

When Your Post-Divorce Fling Causes Even More Legal Drama Than Your Ex-Spouse

Was it really a gift, or did you just borrow it?  This question has come before Judge Judy and other TV judges countless times, and the judges always say that, unless there is a written agreement indicating otherwise, it is a gift.  Those shows take place in small claims court, so the value of the “maybe gift, maybe borrowed item” never exceeds a few thousand dollars, but the same laws apply regarding more expensive items that someone else gave you with or without the intention that you would return them.  In a divorce, after a legally valid marriage, interspousal gifts are considered the separate property of the recipient spouse; sometimes couples disagree about whether a certain valuable item is marital property or an interspousal gift, and the judge must decide.

A recently divorced woman from Palm Beach County learned this lesson the hard way.  While her divorce from her ex-husband was pending, she began dating a man who gave her several pieces of jewelry and décor items.  The court eventually estimated the combined value of the 16 items at $200,000.  When the couple ended their dating relationship several months later, after the woman’s divorce from her ex-husband was final, the man asked for the items back.  The woman insisted that they were gifts, as the man had given her no reason to believe otherwise.  The couple ended up in court, and the court sided with the woman, as the man had failed to prove that the items were not gifts.

Contact Schwartz | White About Disputes Over Gifts

A South Florida family law attorney can help you keep your stuff after a divorce or breakup.  Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.



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