Distributing Assets and Debts in a Florida Divorce
If you are contemplating a divorce in Florida, or currently going through a divorce in Florida, one of the major issues in your case will be the division of assets and debts from your marriage. The legal term for this division is equitable distribution. The first thing you should know is that any assets you owned prior to the date of your marriage will very likely be considered non-marital. If the Judge does declare certain assets to be non-marital, that means your spouse will not be entitled to any portion or value of those assets. Typically, the Judge will have authority to divide any assets or debts acquired by either party from the date of the marriage itself to the filing date of your divorce petition.
For example, if you started a 401(k) after the date of your marriage, your spouse will be entitled to half of the funds in that account. On the other hand, if you already had a 401(k) in place prior to the marriage and contributed nothing to it during the course of the marriage, it is very likely the Judge will declare the entirety of that 401(k) non-marital; in that event, your spouse will not be entitled to any portion of that account.
An asset can be anything from a house, a piece of furniture, stock, a pension, or even a whole life insurance policy. It is important in your divorce case to identify up front any assets that are marital, and any assets that are non-marital. Generally speaking, a Court will try to equally divide all marital assets and their values.
The Court has further authority to divide any marital debts as well. A marital debt can be anything from a mortgage, a credit card balance, a car loan, or student loans (among many other examples). The general process of division of debts is almost identical to the division of assets; the Judge will have to determine what debts existed before the marriage, which will likely be considered non-marital. Those non-marital debts will be the responsibility of whichever spouse incurred them. The Court will divide marital debts in a similar fashion to non-marital debts (that is, an equal split) unless there are compelling circumstances to do otherwise.
A graduate of the University of Florida for his B.A. And Law degree, Chris is an avid Florida Gator fan, as well as Pearl Jam, Nascar and Golf.
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