Going through a divorce can be an extremely emotional experience. It can feel as though your life has been turned upside down and the issues that must be dealt with can seem daunting. One of those issues, property division, can be complex and fill you with questions.
Equitable distribution of property
Florida is an equitable distribution state, rather than community property. This means that, rather than dividing property equally, Florida courts look to who brought what into the marriage and then attempt to divide the property in a fair manner. The court will determine what is marital property and what is non-marital property and distribute it to the spouses accordingly.
Typically, non-marital property is property owned entirely by one spouse. Therefore, that spouse would retain ownership following the divorce. But sometimes, non-marital property can become marital property as an interspousal gift.
To determine if property is an interspousal gift, a court will look at the donative intent of one spouse toward the other. Simply having one’s name on a deed or title is not always sufficient. If the other spouse had some possession of the property or exercised dominion and control over it, this can indicate that the property was actually owned and controlled by both spouses.
If one spouse, for instance, purchased a car with their own money and the title was in their name alone, they may think it is non-marital property. But if the other spouse used the car regularly and maintained insurance on it in their name, a court could view this as donative intent, and deem it marital property.
Issues of property division and whether something qualifies as an interspousal gift are fact-intensive. Every situation is different and requires professional experience to analyze correctly.