Equitable Distribution: How Florida Law Protects You from Your Ex-Spouse’s Financial Irresponsibility and Dishonesty
Disagreements about money are at the root of many divorce cases. Unfortunately, divorce does not immediately get you away from all of your spouse’s bad financial habits that made you want a divorce in the first place. If your ex was a gold digger, a tightwad, a spendthrift, an airhead, a sucker for get-rich-quick schemes, a lazy bum, or a lying scum when you were married, those qualities are probably going to be even more obvious during your divorce, especially when it comes time to divide your assets. The good news is that the law has guiding principles about how to divide a couple’s assets in a divorce; it is not just your common sense against your spouse’s greed, stinginess, or pie-in-the-sky financial plans. If you are going through a divorce and are at an impasse about equitable distribution and division of marital property, a Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help.
How Florida Divorce Courts Determine Equitable Distribution
“Equitable” means fair, although not necessarily equal. “Fair” sounds like a subjective term, but Section 61.075(1) of the Florida statutes outlines the rules of equitable distribution in detail. If you are going through a divorce, not everything you own is fair game for being divided with your spouse. The first step is to decide which property belongs to the couple and which assets one partner owns individually. Unless you specify otherwise in a prenuptial agreement, all the income you earn during the marriage and everything you buy with that income is marital property. Non-marital property is assets you owned before the marriage which you never used for your family’s benefit. For example, it could be inherited money that you kept in an individual bank account, or it could be your share of ownership in a business you founded with partners before you got married.
The courts usually start the division of property by dividing the marital property in half; in brief marriages and those where the couple kept their finances mostly separate, the process of division of assets usually ends there. In some marriages, though, the division of property needs more adjustment than just dividing it in half. The goal is for each spouse separately to continue to have a standard of living similar to what they had during the marriage; there should not be a winner or a loser. The courts also take the spouses’ past and anticipated future earnings into account. The lower-earning spouse might get to keep the house, with the understanding that the parties will end up even within a few years of the higher-earning spouse continuing to work at their well-paying job. If your ex misrepresents their earning potential in an effort to stop the courts from awarding you spousal support or your fair share of the marital assets, the court will impute income to them. In other words, it will base the division of property and alimony on the money your ex would earn if they made a sincere effort to find a job.
Let Us Help You Today
A family law attorney can help if your ex is pretending to be unemployable to get out of paying alimony or to continue receiving alimony. Contact a Boca Raton divorce lawyer at Schwartz | White about your case.