Division of Property and Debts in a Divorce
One of the more complicated elements of a divorce proceeding can be the division of property and debts. Because Florida is a no-fault divorce state there must be an equitable division of both. Deciding who gets or is responsible for both property and debts can be quite contentious, especially if you are not working with a divorce attorney.
Factors that Contribute to Property Division
Although we may think of equitable as being a 50-50 division of property, the court can take certain factors into consideration for both debts and assets for their division. This is one of the many reasons you should hire an experienced divorce attorney to assist you. Some of the factors contributing to the division include:
- Whether one spouse supported the other or helped their career advance at the detriment of their own
- Child custody, especially when one spouse plans on remaining in the family home
- How each party contributed to the growth of assets including whether or not one stopped working to stay at home with their children
- Current and previous economic circumstances of both parties
Not all items owned by the couple prior to the divorce are part of the division of property. Your divorce attorney will help you sort through marital and non-marital assets. Although not absolute, a good rule of thumb is that if you owned something prior to the marriage, it is a non-marital asset and remains with you. Another example of a non-marital asset is if you received something as a gift or inheritance during the marriage. On the other hand, any real property including cars, the primary home, rental properties, boats, and other items purchased or accumulated jointly during the marriage are subject to equitable division.
Financial Assets and Liabilities
Often a woman may stay home with the children while her spouse continues to work and contribute to his 401(k) or other retirement account. Even if she later returns to work and resumes contributions to a retirement account, her husband’s account can be subject to some level of distribution between parties. Bank accounts, including investment accounts, are also marital assets that your divorce attorney should know about.
If you and your spouse have liabilities and have the means to sell any real property to pay off the liability, it is often a good idea to do so. Otherwise, the debt will be divided. Some exceptions to equitable division of liabilities include student loans that came into the marriage. Also, if one party had a loan for another reason prior to marriage, that party will likely continue paying on that loan.
Although Florida is a no-fault state, divorce is still not something you should navigate on your own. With the help of a divorce attorney you are more likely to receive a fair settlement than by attempting to settle the divorce alone. If you need an attorney to help with your divorce proceedings, call Wagstaff Law Office at (727) 584-8182 to schedule your initial consultation.