By law, Florida is an "equitable distribution" state (as opposed to a "community property" state), which means that courts strive to distribute assets and liabilities and divide property equally in a divorce settlement. But a multitude of factors can tilt the final divorce decree one way or another.
Events that occurred during the marriage or during the divorce proceedings may convince the court to deviate from a 50-50 split and favor one side during the final allocation of marital assets and liabilities.
In addition to distributing marital assets as fairly as possible, the court must also determine if alimony is required and who should pay it, as well as what type of alimony and its duration. Alimony may only be calculated after the equitable distribution of assets and liabilities is complete.
If there are children from the marriage, the court must further determine if child support should be paid, by whom, and how much as part of a legally recognized parenting plan that also provides for the time sharing of children between the parents.
Florida courts may order any combination of these financial awards in a divorce case, or all or none of them.
Given the uncertainty brought on by all these factors—and their potential to impact your finances—you need an experienced family law attorney to assist you in understanding the complexities of equitable distribution in Florida and its effect on your entire financial picture.
At Yaffa & Associates, we understand that the division of property in Florida can be a difficult activity. Our firm is sensitive to your concerns, from who keeps the marital home (or whether it should be sold) to ensuring proper business valuations, to the determination and setting aside of any non-marital assets.
We will take the time to explain Florida's equitable distribution laws to you and how they might affect your divorce, while also taking into account any alimony or child support or time sharing issues in your particular situation in order to obtain the most favorable result.
Our marital, family law and divorce attorneys serve clients in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach and other cities in Palm Beach County.
If you are concerned about equitable distribution and protecting your property in a divorce case, contact the experienced family law attorneys at Yaffa & Associates today to schedule an appointment for a consultation about your specific case.
We have explained equitable distribution and the other financial implications of divorce to numerous men and women going through a divorce and we can help you, too. Call us at (561) 276-3880 today.
Before making a determination of how to distribute the marital assets in Florida divorce cases, courts must first distinguish between marital assets and non-marital assets. The law defines the differences between the two in Florida Statutes 61.075(6)(a-b).
Examples of non-marital assets and liabilities include those acquired or incurred before a marriage, gifts from anyone other than the spouse, assets excluded via a prenuptial agreement, and others.
Examples of marital assets and liabilities include those acquired or incurred during a marriage, individually by either spouse or jointly by them, gifts exchanged between the spouses, as well as annuities, retirement, pension, profit sharing and insurance plans, and others.
By law, the court must "set apart to each spouse that spouse’s non-marital assets and liabilities … and exclude any non-marital assets from any property settlement" (F.S. 61.075(1)).
Once the non-marital assets are excluded, courts strive to make an "equitable distribution" of marital property, which does not necessarily mean equal. The law states that a court must "begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution based on all relevant factors" (Id.)
Florida Statutes Part VI, Chapter 61 enumerates the laws pertaining to divorce, including the several factors that can result in a court deviating from a 50-50 split of marital assets and property. Some of those factors are:
(Florida Statutes 61.075(1)(a-j)).
The court may award a cash payment for the purpose of equitable distribution of marital assets to be paid in full or in installments. If the court finds "good cause," it can also order an interim partial distribution while the divorce is pending (F.S. 61.075(5)).
It is also important to keep in mind that debts or liabilities incurred during a marriage may affect the equitable distribution of assets. In some cases, the court may order certain assets to be liquidated in order to pay off marital debt. Business assets, retirement accounts, savings accounts and life insurance policies are all subject to equitable distribution unless those assets existed prior to the marriage.
Equitable Distribution Statutes at the Official Site of the Florida Legislature — Log on to the Florida Legislature’s web site for the statute enumerating the state’s equitable distribution laws. You can also search for other laws related to divorce and a variety of other family law topics under Title VI, Chapter 61, Parts I and II of the Florida Statutes.
If either you or your spouse is considering a divorce, you should be concerned about Florida's equitable distribution laws and how they apply to you.
The experienced family law attorneys at Yaffa & Associates are available now to discuss equitable distribution with you and its importance in your divorce case. Call us to schedule a consultation to learn how equitable distribution is related to other financial concerns of divorce, including alimony, child support and child custody/time sharing and to learn more about the factors the court will consider in determining equitable distribution in your divorce case.
Find out what you need to do right now to protect yourself and resolve your case on the most favorable terms. Our marital, family law and divorce attorneys serve clients in Boca Raton and other cities in Palm Beach County, including West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Wellington, and surrounding areas.
During a consultation, one of our attorneys can explain the issues related to equitable distribution to help you determine your options. Call Yaffa & Associates at (561) 276-3880 today to discuss the facts of your case.