Florida follows the law of equitable division of property in the event of a divorce. However, an even split of assets is not necessarily always fair. Depending on the circumstances, a judge may divide property differently.
Most assets fall into the categories of marital or nonmarital assets, but spouses must also divide debt.
Marital property includes anything acquired during the duration of the marriage. This may include vehicles, furniture, real estate, retirement benefits, pensions, insurance policies and more.
Nonmarital property includes anything a spouse owned prior to the marriage, as well as assets and debts defined as separate property in a valid prenuptial agreement. Income from the separate property also belongs to the respective spouse.
The equitable distribution approach also applies to debts. A judge treats debt as an asset in the division of property. The division of debt is not always equal, but the goal is fairness. For example, if one spouse earned the primary income in the marriage, that spouse might retain most of the debt.
The judge typically awards the marital home to one spouse, but the other might receive a buyout for their share of the house’s value. Children play a major role in this decision. The custodial parent spends more time with the children and typically has a greater chance of staying in the home in an effort to avoid additional disruption to their lives.
Gifts require further consideration. Those given to either spouse during the marriage may still fall into the category of nonmarital property. The same is true for inheritance. A family law attorney can provide guidance on what to expect throughout the property division process.