When couples are working through a divorce, decisions regarding how property and belongings will be divided can be a central point of contention. When spouses cannot come to an agreement, the terms of property distribution can be left to a judge. Florida is an equitable distribution state meaning that a judge will look to split marital assets fairly between spouses. A judge will base the decision in conjunction will every factor of the divorce and what each spouse contributed to the marriage. Only marital assets are considered in this process while non-marital assets, property owned before a marriage, will remain the sole property of each spouse. Our blog looks at the difference between marital and non-marital property in Florida.
Marital and Non-Marital Property
In practice, the distinction between how property is classified is not always clear and can often lead to disputes. Marital assets typically include all belongings and property which either spouse acquired during the time in which they were legally married. This can include cars, bank accounts, and retirement accounts as well as debts such as a mortgages and credit cards. In many situations, how debt will be distributed among spouses plays an equally important role in a divorce.
An asset can be considered separate property if it meets one of several criteria. Separate property can include any item that was owned by a spouse before marriage, an item acquired at any time as a gift, or property that was directly inherited by a spouse. Income or assets that were derived from or exchanged for separate property can also qualify. There are methods by which all or part of a separate asset can become marital property. This is an area in which disputes often arise.
A process known as commingling occurs when assets which were previously separate are mixed together, either intentionally or unintentionally. For example, if a spouse begins contributing to a separate bank account and that account is used jointly, it may be considered to be a shared marital asset. The date at which property was acquired can also call the status of property into dispute. As items acquired during a marriage are considered shared property, if it is unclear if an asset was obtained before or after the date of a marriage, its status may be disputed.
Legal Representation for Property Division
If you are currently experiencing or anticipating a divorce, you need a knowledgeable and trustworthy legal advocate in your corner. At Mitchell & West LLC, we are committed to helping our clients find the best solution for their family and can defend your rights if a divorce goes to court. Our Miami family law attorneys have an in-depth knowledge of all aspects of divorce from the division of property to child custody agreements. If you have questions about your divorce, do not hesitate to contact our firm.
Call (305) 783-3301 to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can protect your interests.