What to Know about Property Division in a Florida Divorce
Deciding who gets what in a Florida divorce can be difficult, and can even feel overwhelming at times. Florida follows the theory of equitable distribution, which means the courts look to divide property in a fair and equitable manner. This is not the same as property distribution in a community property state where things are divided 50/50.
Dividing assets and liabilities in a divorce can be made easier when you have a Boca Raton divorce attorney on your side. There are a number of legal and financial issues that have to be addressed before the case can be resolved, including the following:
Was the Marriage Valid?
Sometimes, not always, but situations present themselves that show that the marriage wasn’t valid in the first place. An annulment that wasn’t official, a legal separation, or even a common law marriage from another state could lead you to discover that your marriage is not even valid in the first place.
Determining What is Marital and Separate Property
Before property can be divided, everything must be classified and valued. Marital property is assets that can be classified as assets that were acquired during the marriage and belong to both spouses. Separate property is what individual spouses own on their own, usually assets that were brought into the marriage. There are circumstances where separate property can become marital property through a process of commingling. Commingling assets is when you mix separate and marital assets together.
Next, you have to determine a fair market value for your property. This is not the purchase price or the replacement value either. This is the price someone would pay for it today. Some assets can be very difficult to place a value on and may require the services of a financial expert who can weigh in and provide a value to the court.
Dividing Debts in Your Florida Divorce
Debts and liabilities are divided in the same manner as assets. The courts will handle the division much like assets if the debts are marital property.
How are Family Pets Handled
The most desirable course of action is for you to reach an agreement with your spouse on who takes the family pet(s). Sadly, the courts don’t look at pets as a member of the family. There is no custody battle and visitation rights like there are with children. In fact, the law treats a family pet as property. It is part of the property division phase. As hard as it is to imagine your beloved pet being treated as a piece of property, the law hasn’t evolved in this area yet. This reason is why it’s better to reach an agreement with your soon-to-be ex on your own.
What Happens in the Event Your Spouse is Hiding Assets?
Unfortunately, some people are less than scrupulous and attempt to hide or liquidate assets. You need to collect all evidence possible to share with your attorney. Tax returns for the last five years, bank accounts, retirement fund information, etc. This can help determine if there are any irregularities. In some cases, you may need an expert to help you track down missing assets or money.
Contact a Florida Family Law Attorney Today
If you need assistance with a divorce in Florida, contact the Law Offices of Schwartz | White today to schedule an initial consultation.