One of the most difficult parts of a divorce is the division of marital assets. This is an area where there could be quite a bit of contentiousness, as both parties are likely to have strong opinions about how they feel the property should be divided and what they’re “owed” in the divorce settlement.
We frequently have clients ask whether they really have to give up some of their savings to a spouse, even if they’d held the money in their own account. Unfortunately, the answer in many of these circumstances is “yes,” but the specific answer for you depends on your situation.
Here’s some basic information you should know about the asset division process from a divorce lawyer in Miami, FL.
Marital versus nonmarital property
One of the first things you need to know about the asset division process is that the only assets that are subject to division are “marital” assets, those being assets accrued or purchased during the course of the marriage. If a particular asset as acquired during the marriage, it will typically be considered marital property, and it does not matter if the property or asset was acquired by one or both spouses. If, for example, a husband purchases a car during the marriage, that car is marital property even if the husband used only money from his own paycheck and if only his name appears on the vehicle’s title.
Non-marital property, then, is anything that was acquired before the marriage by either spouse, or gifts or inheritances for one of the spouses. It should be noted, however, that appreciation in value of non-marital assets also qualifies as marital property. Stocks that were acquired before the marriage are non-marital property, but any appreciation in value of those stocks that occurred after the marriage is considered marital property. A non-marital asset can be considered a marital asset if the parties co-mingled their funds, or used non-marital assets for marital purposes.
Equitable distribution state
Florida is an equitable distribution state, meaning the courts will divide the marital properly equitably, but not necessarily equally. After categorizing all property in the divorce as marital or nonmarital, the judge then awards portions of the marital property to either spouse, and it may not necessarily be in a 50/50 arrangement. You may also be required to prove ownership of separate property with receipts or witnesses.
There are a variety of factors that go into the distribution of assets. The value of the property, for example, is very important. Courts will generally go by the fair market value (FMV) of each item, the amount of money you’d be able to sell it for on the open market. Other factors that will go into the property division process are the income levels of each spouse, what will happen with child custody and, in some cases, the spouses’ behavior during the marriage. While courts typically won’t “punish” one spouse in asset division, there are some circumstances in which issues such as domestic violence or adultery could impact that process.
For more information, contact a divorce lawyer in Miami, FL at the Law Offices of Granoff & Kessler.
Categorized in: Divorce