The Miami divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., are leaders in family law. Certified as a specialist in Marital & Family Law by The Florida Bar, Mr. Fox has extensive experience helping families through divorce from start to finish, including the challenging process of distributing marital assets. By combining sensitive and caring assistance with committed advocacy, at the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. we can provide you with the legal assistance you need to navigate this difficult time. Located in Aventura, Florida, our office serves clients in several localities, including Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.Equitable Distribution of Assets
During the complicated and emotional divorce process, couples will inevitably reach a point where they must divide the assets they have acquired during their marriage. Where distribution is relatively straightforward, parties may divide property amongst themselves and reach a settlement outside of the court in a marital settlement agreement. However, when parties cannot agree on how property should be allocated, a court may need to assist.
Like many other states, Florida law requires “equitable distribution” of marital property during a divorce. Florida Statute 61.075 governs equitable distribution. The objective of this statute is to ensure a fair distribution of all marital property, and the initial presumption is that each party will receive half of all assets and debts, unless there is justification for unequal distribution based on other factors the court may consider.Factors Considered in Determining Equitable Distribution
In determining what is “equitable,” Florida law holds that a court may consider several factors relevant to the marriage and marital property. These include:
- The contributions made to the marriage by each spouse (including financial contributions and also the care and education of children)
- The economic circumstances and needs of each spouse
- The duration of the marriage
- Whether one spouse contributed to the career or educational goals of the other
- Whether one party wishes to retain the home as a residence for children
- Whether either party has intentionally harmed property in anticipation of divorce
Because every marriage and divorce is unique, Florida Statute 61.075 also allows courts to consider any other factors necessary to ensure that distribution of property is equal and just. However, this is generally limited to factors that affect the marital property itself, and does not include unrelated issues of fault such as adultery.Marital and Non-marital Property
It is important to remember that equitable distribution applies only to marital property, which is property acquired during the marriage. Generally, if one spouse has property he or she owned prior to marriage, this is considered non-marital and is not subject to division.
Marital property may include real property held together by the parties; all assets acquired and liabilities incurred during the marriage; gifts to each other during the marriage; all vested and non-vested benefits, rights, and funds accrued during the marriage; and the enhancement in value and appreciation of non-marital assets.
Non-marital property includes real property held individually before the marriage; assets and liabilities incurred before marriage; gifts received before the marriage; and assets and liabilities excluded and segregated from the marital property.
It is important to consult a qualified Florida divorce attorney when considering what property may be subject to equitable division during a divorce. There are exceptions to the general rule, and when marital and non-marital property have been combined, a court may determine the property is all marital, rather than engage in attempting to untangle the two.Helping You Determine What is Rightfully Yours
At the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., our South Florida family lawyers, we are here to assist you in your divorce needs. We have helped countless families navigate the legal difficulties of divorce, and understand the emotional toll that it can take on spouses. We are dedicated to representing your best interests during the distribution of marital assets, whether it is during settlement negotiations or in the courtroom. If you are facing the prospect of divorce or have questions about property acquired during or before your marriage, contact the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., for a confidential consultation at 800.596.0579 or online.