After building a life together, divorce can seem like a disastrous dismantling. Not only is it an emotional time as two people who thought their bond would last take steps to separate and end their marital relationship but it’s also difficult to sort through the accumulated items that have built up over the years. From the wedding gifts and china to the souvenirs from vacations, determining who gets what can be a trying experience. It is often this division of assets that truly signals the end of the union as property is allocated to one party or the other.
Understanding how marital assets are divided can help alleviate the tension of the process and make it easier to determine which items one values.
Determining What is Marital Property
In Florida, marital property is everything acquired during the course of a marriage—regardless of whose name the property may be in. If you purchased a house together or maintained a joint bank account, that is considered marital property. If you owned a home prior to your marriage and then added your spouse’s name to the deed, that is considered marital property. Almost all income acquired during the course of your marriage will be considered marital property. The only exception is if one party has accounts in their name that pre-existed the marriage and the other party did not contribute to that account or help increase its value in any way.
If, however, one party has the house in their name but the other party contributed to an increase in its value, then the increase in value would be considered a marital asset.
Marital property can include:
- Real estate
- Pension and retirement benefits
- Bank accounts and stocks
- Property such as vehicles and home items
Florida is an Equitable Distribution State
Parties seeking to divorce through the court system will find that Florida is an equitable distribution state. That means that all property is evenly divided between the two parties. While this may be suitable for some parties, it is not the best solution for all divorcing couples. Nor does it take into account the possible tax ramifications such a division may incur.
In a traditional divorce, a judge will determine what is marital property and what is not. While one’s attorney can argue for certain items to be considered nonmarital property, it is up to the judge to make the final determination. The judge then values and distributes the property. This is generally done on a 50-50 basis, however, there are reasons for unequal distribution, including how long the parties were married, the contribution of each party, and their different economic circumstances.
The Collaborative Divorce Alternative
In a collaborative divorce, there is a better opportunity to negotiate the division of assets. Because of the creative nature of a collaborative divorce, the two parties can determine for themselves what they believe is fair and work towards distributing assets in a manner that takes into account their best interests and their plans for the future. This is done with the aid of a financial neutral.
Consulting a Tampa Divorce Attorney
If you’d like to learn more about how your assets may be handled during a divorce, you should consult with a skilled Tampa divorce attorney. While this post provides a short overview of the division of marital property in Florida, speaking with a divorce attorney can provide you with more in-depth information and can help you better understand how the law may apply to your particular case. In addition, when you consult with a Tampa divorce attorney that is trained in collaborative divorce, you can learn more about different divorce methods and determine which method may best suit your situation. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and to learn more about your divorce options.