Florida has what are known as equitable distribution laws, which means that marital assets are divided fairly but not necessarily equally in a divorce. When divorcing couples are unable to reach an amicable agreement and these decisions are left up to the court, family law judges weigh a number of factors before they rule. They consider how long the couple was married, the contributions made during the marriage by each of the spouses and how the money earned by the couple was spent.
Assets acquired by a couple during a marriage are considered marital property and are divided in a divorce. Assets owned by either spouse before they got married and inheritances or gifts received during a marriage are usually considered separate property and not subject to division. However, matters become more complex when separate property is comingled with marital property. This can happen when an inheritance is deposited in a joint bank account or marital funds are used to renovate or improve a separate asset such as a piece of real estate.
The contributions made by divorcing spouses are a key consideration when judges make property division decisions. Judges look at how much money each spouse earned as well as other kinds of contribution such as taking care of a home and raising children. Judges tend to pay particular attention to sacrifices made by spouses that allowed their husbands or wives to attend college or further their careers.
Experienced family law attorneys could urge divorcing spouses to do all that they reasonably can to avoid protracted legal battles by reaching a settlement at the negotiating table. However, this is not always possible as tensions often run high during divorces. When an amicable resolution is elusive and litigation seems unavoidable, attorneys could suggest exploring alternative approaches such as collaborative divorce or mediation.