Divorce can become complicated when it comes to splitting up the property a couple has acquired during the marriage. Unfortunately, disputes over the division of marital property are not uncommon, particularly when there is a lot of money at stake. Although Florida is an equitable distribution state, the best way to protect your interests in a divorce is to consult an experienced family law lawyer.
Orlando Family Team provides comprehensive legal services to clients in Central Florida through all phases of the divorce process. Well-versed in the applicable property division laws and relevant court rulings, our husband and wife team will work together to make sure you are treated fairly. When you consult us, you will have peace of mind knowing that we will be here to guide you through this difficult transition.
What does equitable distribution mean?
Under Florida’s rules of equitable distribution, marital property must be divided in a way that is “equitable.” This does not mean an equal 50-50 split, but rather a fair and reasonable distribution for both parties. While this seems straightforward, dividing marital property can be difficult, particularly when there is a lot of property involved, one or both spouses owns a small business, or one of the parties attempts to conceal his or her assets. This is why it is critically important to consult the property distribution attorneys at Orlando Family Team. We have a proven history of successfully fighting for our clients inside and outside of the courtroom and will work tirelessly to protect your marital property rights.
What is marital property?
In a Florida divorce, each party is allowed to retain their own personal, or separate property, which includes property either spouse acquired before marriage, an inheritance or gift that was received individually, compensation from a legal settlement, and any property specified in a valid prenuptial marital agreement.
On the other hand, marital property must be fairly divided, which includes:
- Property purchased by each spouse during the marriage, regardless of who held title
- Property acquired by the couple while they were married (e.g. house, car)
- Each spouse’s income during marriage
- Retirement benefits (e.g. 401(k), IRA) each spouse earned during the marriage
Additionally, closely-held businesses and professional practices are considered marital property subject to the rules of equitable distribution as is any enhanced earning capacity stemming from career advancement, receiving an educational degree, or obtaining a professional license.
What factors does the court consider in determining equitable distribution?
As mentioned above, equitable distribution does not mean that a divorcing couple’s property will be divided evenly, but rather in a way that will lead to a fair outcome for both spouses. Generally, in making this determination, the courts rely on factors such as:
- The financial condition and earning power of each spouse
- The contributions of each spouse to the acquisition of marital property
- Any contributions to the education or earning power of either spouse
- The expected financial needs and liabilities of each spouse
- Whether one spouse has been awarded alimony (spousal support)
Other factors the court will consider include any potential pension, health insurance, and inheritance rights either spouse may lose after the divorce, the tax consequences to each spouse, the probable future financial circumstances of each spouse, and any other factor the court determines to be fair and proper. Despite the equitable distribution rules, dividing marital property is often one of the most difficult and contentious issues to resolve in a divorce. Ultimately, reaching a fair property distribution requires our experienced divorce attorneys to collaborate with appraisers, accountants, and other financial professionals. In so doing, our husband and wife team can help to determine the fair value of your marital property, ascertain business valuations and uncover any hidden assets. Above all, you can rest assured that your interests will be protected.
Call Our Orlando Property Division Attorney
At Orlando Family Team, we will work with you to develop a plan that allows you to achieve your objectives after the marriage is dissolved. While we prefer to reach negotiated resolutions property division issues, our trial attorneys know their way around the courtroom and will leverage their skills and experience to fight for your rights. Whether through negotiation or litigation, our mission is to make you sure you and your ex are on an even footing and that you have adequate resources to support your new lifestyle. As a husband and wife team, Ophelia Bernal-Mora, Esq., B.C.S. and Andrew Nickolaou, Esq. understand the challenges that couples face and the importance of preserving family bonds when a marriage dissolves. Knowing that no two families are alike, we will take the time to understand your circumstances and tailor a solution to your needs. Our trustworthy advice will put you in the driver’s seat as you move on with your life. Please contact our office today to speak with our property division attorneys.