Part of dissolving a marriage is distributing marital property and debts between the spouses. If you and your spouse aren’t able to reach an agreement on how to divide your property, the judge will decide what is fair based on a variety of factors.
Florida law requires that the division of marital property must be “equitable.” Equitable does not always mean equal, but the law requires the judge to begin with the assumption that the division should be equal. The judge can divide the property unequally only if it is justified after an examination of these factors, set out in the Florida statues:
As an example, if a wife puts her career on hold to stay home and take care of the children while the husband continued to advance in his career, a judge may award the wife a larger share of the assets at divorce. The rationale for this is that the wife may need retraining before she can enter the work force, or need a significant period of support before she’s able to find a job. This type of unequal distribution is more likely in a 15-year marriage than a three-year marriage, however. The judge will consider all of the factors before making an award.
Florida law details which property and debts are marital, meaning they belong to both spouses, and which are separate (nonmarital), meaning they belong to one spouse alone. Marital property includes:
Separate property includes:
In extraordinary circumstances, the judge may order distributions of property before the final judgment of divorce is entered. The spouse requesting the partial distribution must do so through a motion to the court and must state specific facts to document why this distribution cannot wait until the final judgment of divorce. The judge must take any partial distribution into account in the final allocation of the couple’s property.
Marital property is distributed before alimony is considered.