Classifying and Dividing Marital Property in Florida
The Sunshine State, like most other jurisdictions, is an equitable division state. The final divorce order, whether a judge enters it or the parties submit an agreed order, must equitably divide marital property. That rule seems straightforward, but in most cases, it isn’t.
A premarital agreement eliminates most of the subtle complexities which are outlined below. The game-changing Uniform Marital and Premarital Agreements Act streamlined these pacts, making them easier to draft and enforce. Today’s prenups aren’t just for the super rich. They’re usually for anyone who is tying the knot for a second or subsequent time.
Only a good Jupiter family law attorney can efficiently prepare an effective prenuptial agreement or divorce order that fulfills all legal requirements yet is easy for nonlawyers to understand and follow. These documents aren’t set in stone. Both can be modified later, as emotional and financial circumstances change.
Classifying Marital Property
The line between B.M. (before marriage) and A.M. (after marriage) seems clear, just like the line between B.C.E. (before common era) and C.E. (common era) seems clear. But scholars quibble over where to divide the eras, and Jupiter family law attorneys quibble over the line between marital and nonmarital property. The scholarly dispute is theoretical. The legal dispute is real.
Paycheck misuse is the most common dispute. Husband might use money from his paycheck (marital asset, since it was acquired during the marriage) to pay off his car loan (nonmarital debt, since it was incurred before the marriage). Depending on the timing, if this Husband and Wife divorce, the paycheck misuse could amount to tens of thousands of dollars in dissipated (wasted) marital assets.
Other problems are more complicated. Assume Wife bought a vacant Airbnb rental before the marriage. Husband uses his property management skills to upgrade and market the property. Upon divorce, the Airbnb is a hot commodity that’s booked solid months in advance. Depending on the additional facts, the Airbnb, as well as all past and future income and obligations, could be Wife’s nonmarital property, marital property subject to equitable division, or Husband’s nonmarital property.
A prenup eliminates these issues. These agreements clearly state what’s yours, what’s mine, and what’s ours. Judges usually enforce these provisions in these agreements, unless they’re hopelessly one-sided or one spouse tricked another spouse into signing on the dotted line.
Dividing Marital Property
Equitable is usually, but not always, synonymous with equal. The judge will order a disproportionate division if certain factors point one way. Several factors apply. The common denominator is the difference between the standard of living during the marriage and the standard of living after the marriage.
Divorce is a financial burden. But under Florida’s equitable division law, the divorce cannot be an unfair financial burden on either party. So, the court must divide the marital estate, both assets and debts, accordingly.
Most financial divorce orders, like child support orders, are subject to future modification. Property division orders, however, are usually set in stone. Since, as one of our law school professors said, you only get one trip to the salad bar of justice, an attorney has little margin for error in this area.
Rely on a Thorough Palm Beach County Lawyer
Divorce and related matters almost always involve financial and emotional issues. For a free consultation with an experienced Jupiter family law attorney, contact Caroline Olson, P.A. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start fighting for you.