Dividing Marital Property In A Florida Divorce
Like most other jurisdictions, the Sunshine State is an equitable division state. When a couple divorces, the court must equitably divide marital property, including both debts and assets. In this context, equitably isn’t always the same thing as equally. The court must divide marital assets so the divorce isn’t an unfair financial burden on either spouse.
As a result, petitioners and respondents both have important legal and financial rights that a Jupiter family law attorney must protect. This protection often begins with a solid premarital agreement. If the spouses don’t have a prenup, an attorney can still craft an out-of-court settlement that allows both spouses to move on with the rest of their lives.
Marital property classification is often the most time-consuming portion of a divorce for a Jupiter family law attorney.
Incidentally, income is probably the most important factor in child and spousal support determinations. Listed factors are very important in marital property matters. More on these factors below.
Many people try to hide income. Intentional over-withholding is one of the most common schemes. Jeff tells his boss to over-withhold his income for income tax purposes, thus reducing his net income. Then, Jeff gets that money back in the spring.
Dividing Marital Property
Property division agreements often involve offsets. For example, Jeff might agree to pay more spousal support if he keeps a greater share of his 410(k). Emotional/financial offsets are available as well. Jeff might pay more alimony if his soon-to-be-ex-wife agrees to stay in Palm Beach County and adjacent counties as long as the children are under 18.
Any offset must be consistent with the principle of equitable division and the factors listed in Florida law. Some of these factors include:
- Length of the Marriage: Extended separation periods sometimes complicate this factor. Many spouses are separated for several months, or even several years, before one of them files divorce paperwork.
- Standard of Living During the Marriage: Divorce inevitably lowers the standard of living for both spouses. However, as mentioned above, one spouse cannot live in the poorhouse while the other spouse must simply downsize.
- Noneconomic Contributions to the Marriage: The so-called “homemaker factor” could be significant, especially if one spouse gave up a promising career to become a full-time caregiver.
- Child Custody: It’s usually in the best interests of the children for them to remain in the family home. That outcome could involve marital property division issues as well as financial assistance issues.
Most aspects of a divorce settlement can be modified later. But property division is a one-time affair. Once this part of a divorce is settled, it’s almost impossible to reopen it.
Work With 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. We routinely handle matters throughout Palm Beach County.