Jupiter Equitable Distribution Lawyer
Equitable Distribution of Marital Property in a Florida Divorce
Equitable distribution refers to the division of marital property in a Florida divorce. If you made a valid and enforceable prenuptial or postnuptial agreement regarding the division of property, then the terms of that agreement will control how your marital estate gets divided. Otherwise, you and your spouse can work out a satisfactory agreement through negotiations or mediation. Finally, the property division can be set in court, along with any other contested issues.
At Caroline Olson, P.A., our Jupiter equitable distribution lawyer is prepared to help you get the right result regarding the property division in your divorce – one that is fair to you and meets the needs of you and your children. Key questions about equitable distribution are addressed below. Call our offices in Jupiter or Boca Raton for advice and representation regarding the property division in your Florida divorce.
What is marital property?
Identifying property as marital or nonmarital can seem simple at first, although it can get quite complicated, as well. In general, marital property includes all assets and liabilities incurred during the marriage, whether acquired by either spouse singly or jointly. Property that is held together or jointly titled is also marital property.
Nonmarital property, on the other hand, includes assets and liabilities acquired by an individual before marriage, as well as during marriage by gift or inheritance. However, a gift from one spouse to another is considered marital property.
When a spouse derives income during the marriage from nonmarital assets, that income can be nonmarital as well, provided it is maintained separately and not mixed in a joint bank account, for example. If the spouses together contribute to the enhancement in value of nonmarital assets, the amount of that enhancement might be considered marital property. For instance, one spouse may have a mortgage on a nonmarital property that is paid down with marital funds.
Critical steps in the property division include locating all property owned by the couple and correctly identifying it as marital or separate property. Next, every marital asset must be accurately valued. Jupiter and Boca Raton equitable distribution lawyer Caroline R. Olson can help ensure that all marital property is disclosed and valued appropriately, including complex assets such as business interests or professional practices, stocks, and the appreciation in retirement accounts. Performing this service requires knowledge, skill and experience, and sometimes the expertise of professionals such as forensic accountants.
How do Florida courts decide what kind of distribution is fair?
An “equitable distribution” is one that is fair, considering all the surrounding circumstances. The court starts with the premise that the distribution should be equal unless an unequal distribution is justified. The judge will consider any factors relevant to the property division, including all of the following, per Florida Statutes 61.075:
- The contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as homemaker
- The economic circumstances of the parties
- The duration of the marriage
- Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party
- The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other spouse
- The desirability of retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, corporation, or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the nonmarital assets of the parties
- The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent child of the marriage
- The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition or within two years prior to the filing of the petition
- Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties
When the decision of property division is left to the judge, it is crucial to present a strong case built around the above factors and backed by evidence. At Caroline Olson, P.A., we’ll prepare and argue a compelling case to achieve a fair result that respects your needs and interests regarding particular pieces of property and the property division as a whole.
Help with Equitable Distribution and Divorce in Jupiter and Boca Raton and surrounding areas
For help with the equitable distribution of property in your South Florida divorce, call Caroline Olson, P.A., at our offices in Jupiter or Boca Raton at 561-288-0548. We offer a free, initial consultation to learn about your needs and let you know how we can help.