Equitable Distribution, also known as Assets and debts, must be dealt with in divorce proceedings. The Court’s desire is distribute such assets and liabilities in a manner in which equity is done between the parties. The court must begin with the presumption that the distribution must be equal, unless there are factors which would justify an unequal distribution of assets and debts. The factors which the court considers when making the determination of how to distribute marital assets and liabilities can be found in Section 61.075 of the Florida Statues. A few of the factors which the court will consider include, the contribution to the marriage by each spouse, the economic circumstances of the parties, the duration of the marriage, the intentional dissipation of the martial assets as the filing o f the petition for dissolution or within two years prior to the filing of the petition, etc.
Understanding Equitable Distribution of Marital Property in Florida
Florida is an equitable distribution state, which essentially means each spouse receives a fair portion of marital property based on its total value. To understand this further, it is important to learn what is considered marital property, how to figure out the equity of the property and be aware of dissipation issues.
Definition of Marital Property
According to Florida law, marital property (or assets) is considered to be items that have been acquired during the duration of the marriage. Items considered marital property are:
Increased value of assets
Gifts from one spouse to the other
Personal property that is titled under both spouses’ names
Retirement accounts, pensions and so forth
The law also takes into account the value of a spouse’s contribution towards the other spouse’s success. For example, if a spouse supported the other spouse’s business through hosting business parties or taking care of the household to enable the spouse to focus on his or her business, then the growth of the business and subsequent increased value could be counted as marital property.
Property that would fit under the state’s definition of non marital property would be non-spousal gifts, inheritances, income from non marital assets and property that both spouses agree to exclude.
Calculating Equity of Marital Property
Once the character of the asset, or the classification of marital property, is determined, then it needs to be valued. Generally, a date is assigned for the valuation of marital property and that date may be the date of separation for the spouses or the date the marriage is dissolved. In Florida, the judge has the ability to determine the valuation of some assets or debts on different dates.
To make sure that one spouse does not have an advantage over the other, it is a good idea to enlist the help of a family law attorney with experience in valuing marital property. If the spouses cannot agree on the proper value of marital property, then it will likely fall to a judge to make that decision.
Preventing Dissipation of Marital Property
In some cases, a spouse may attempt to hide property or assets from the other or attempt to sell property to exclude it from the property division process. However, if a spouse suspects that the other spouse is trying to dissipate property, he or she can petition the court to issue what is referred to as an injunction.
An injunction essentially freezes the property and assets, preventing the spouse from being able to sell it or transfer it during the divorce process. The spouse will need to show the court that there is just reason for issuing an injunction order, but an experienced attorney can help. Anyone going through a divorce should consider hiring a divorce lawyer to guide him or her through the process and protect his or her legal rights.
Contact Jenkinson Legal Today
Choosing the right divorce lawyer is the first step in protecting your rights in family court. Divorces can become complex very quickly, so hiring an experienced, aggressive family law attorney who can handle every aspect of your divorce action is essential. At Jenkinson Legal, we fight aggressively to win favorable terms and settlements for every client. We uncover any hidden assets and make certain that property is fairly divided. We advocate for your children’s best interests regarding custody, visitation, and support. We also represent clients when custody, timesharing, and support orders need modification. A divorce may be your first exposure to the Florida legal system, and the divorce process can seem overwhelming.
Jenkinson Legal has many satisfied clients throughout seven counties of Central Florida – Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Polk, Volusia, and Brevard. Here at the Florida Family Law office of Jenkinson Legal we have one simple objective: provide personalized, one on one attention to our clients’ legal worries so they can concentrate on life and family. Contact Jenkinson Legal today to learn more about our experience and success at (321) 837-9547. We are conveniently located in beautiful downtown Winter Park, Florida.