Couples in Florida may spend years or even decades accumulating various assets, such as a house, automobiles, electronics, artwork and other valuable pieces of property. So, should the couple divorce, the issue of property division can be a sticking point for many spouses who believe they are entitled to certain assets. If a settlement cannot be reached regarding property division, the parties will turn to the court to issue a decision.
When it comes to property division, Florida is an equitable distribution state. This means that the judge will issue a decision regarding property division based on what is fair, and it may not always result in an even 50/50 split of assets and liabilities. Specifically, Florida statutes state that the court will begin with the premise that assets and liabilities should be split equally unless there is a justifiable reason not to do so based on all relevant factors.
When determining whether an uneven split of assets is justifiable, Florida courts will consider several factors. Each party's financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage may be considered. Each party's economic circumstances may also be considered. How long the marriage lasted is another factor. Whether one party's personal career or education was put on hold during the course of the marriage, for example, to raise a family, may also be considered. The contribution one party made to the career or education of the other party is another factor.
How much each party contributed to the acquisition, enhancement or improvement of both marital and nonmarital assets may be considered. Whether the party with primary custody of the children should remain in the family home is another factor. In addition, whether a party intentionally wasted or destroyed marital property may be considered.
This list is not all-exhaustive; there are additional factors. In the end, it is paramount that property division in a Florida divorce is fair. Thus, each party should make sure they understand what their rights are with regard to marital assets and debts, so they can make informed decisions moving forward.