One of the standard tasks in any Florida divorce involves separating the couple’s property. In some cases, the parties are able to accomplish this by agreement; that is, they determine themselves which one of them will take a particular piece of property. Where there is no agreement, the judge hearing the divorce action will make this determination. Dividing property between two divorcing spouses is not as simple as finding out to whom a particular item belongs, however. Property division can be complicated and require the assistance of an attorney.
The Basic Goal of Property Division
In a Florida divorce, the goal of a division of the property is for both parties to be awarded a fair and equitable amount of the marital estate or marital property. “Marital property” includes all property that was acquired by either of the parties during the course of the marriage, regardless of who actually “earned” it. So for instance, a wife who uses her income from her job to purchase two cars for the family has purchased “marital property.” If the couple later divorces, the cars are subject to division by the court because they are considered marital property, even though the wife purchased this property herself.
The division of property must be “fair and equitable” – that is, both parties must be treated fairly. This does not always result in an even 50/50 split of the marital property. In the example above, if one car is valued at $12,000 and the other at $15,000, it may be fair and equitable for each party to receive one of the cars in the property division.
Where Problems Arise in Property Division
In certain cases, property that is clearly yours can be subject to division as “marital property.” The assistance of an experienced family law attorney would be necessary to help you protect what is yours. For example, an inheritance you received prior to the marriage would typically remain your property after the marriage as it would be considered “non-marital property.” But suppose the inheritance is substantial (assume $100,000 for purposes of this example) and you deposit this money into a joint bank account used to pay your bills. Or you add your spouse as an authorized user to the bank account where this money is on deposit. In either case, the court may consider your inheritance to be marital property, which would subject it to division by the court at the time of the divorce.
How Can I Protect What is Mine?
The team of Tampa Florida divorce attorneys at All Family Law Group can help you protect your property before, during, and after a marriage. One way is by drafting and entering into premarital or antenuptial agreements, wherein each party agrees who will receive what property if a divorce occurs. We can also advise you how best to separate your property so that it is not lumped together with and considered as marital property. Contact us today at (813) 321-3421 for a free consultation to learn how our Tampa Divorce Lawyers can help you keep what is yours.
By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+