There is a common misconception that as long gas yours in the name on the lease, you will keep that time in a divorce. That can happen, but the matter of who actually paid or put money down on an asset is not often a court’s concern. Anything that is purchased during a marriage is considered marital property. Regardless of who made the purchase, it belongs to each person.
Because it belongs to both parties, courts are more concerned with who is more entitled. To the property. In other words, they want to know who deserves to keep it after the marriage dissolves. Our firm serves both Louisiana and Florida, and each state uses a different model when dividing property.
Louisiana Uses Communal Property Division
Few states operate under this model. Essentially, courts take the totality of the marital assets and attempt to split it equally among each partner, 50/50. Spousal support and child support orders are not considered in this split. The property is split first, then the court makes support decisions.
Even in an equal split, there is property that you cannot divide. Physical property such as cars and homes must go to one person. Otherwise, it must be sold, and the profits are split among the couple. If that is not an option, one party must pay the other half the amount of the item or make a trade equal to 50% of the property’s value.
With all of this physical trading, someone is bound to lose out. Property that is not sold will go to the person the court deems most deserving, and the deficit in the 50% split is made up another way.
Florida Uses Equitable Property Division
“Equitable” refers to what is fairer, not to what is completely equal. Closed captioning in a film, for example, is an equitable solution for allowing the hearing impaired to enjoy a movie. Most states in the Union use an equitable property division model in a divorce, meaning property goes to the person the court believes deserves it. If you are in Florida, you must be prepared to make a reasonable argument as to why you deserve a certain asset.
Knowing that courts want to give property to the most entitled party, here are some arguments you can use to prove that you should keep a certain asset after the divorce.
You Were the Primary User of the Item
Divorces can get ugly. Sometimes, just out of spite, people may go after one another’s property, knowing full well they don’t deserve it. One way to preserve your property is to demonstrate that you were the primary user of that property. Gifts are a great example of this. Technically, gifts given between partners are still marital property. Romantic gifts, such as jewelry, may be harder to defend in court as just “yours.” Practical gifts, however, can be easier to defend.
Say your spouse bought you a car, but you were the only person who used that car ever since. At that point, the car is less of a gift than something that benefits the marriage as a whole. You can make a strong argument in court that you still need your car, and you should be able to keep it after the divorce. Imagine your spouse who has no interest in gaming bought you a new PlayStation for Christmas. You’ve used it every day since, and they’ve never pushed one button. Or perhaps you have a vinyl collection that’s been growing since before you met your spouse. For your birthday every year, they bought you records to add to your collection. These are the kinds of use you can use to prove that you deserve the keep the item.
You Maintained the Property
Sometimes in a marriage, both parties use a particular asset but only one is the primary maintainer of that asset. This happens often in a home. One person is the primary breadwinner, paying for the mortgage, groceries, and repairs. The other, however, keeps the home in order. They keep it clean; they manage the maintenance of the home; they oversee any repairs, additions, etc. They may been the one who manages the income, allocating funds as necessary to keep the home in order. When showing that you are entitled to the home, or any other property, you can use your management and maintenance of that asset as grounds to keep it.
You Could Be Left Destitute Without the Asset
Divorce is hard when one party relies on the other. One person may fear “losing everything,” while the other is concerned about “having nothing.” In most situations, a court will not leave you destitute. This applies to specific property as well. You may need your car for work, just to stay afloat financially. Perhaps you have no other living options, and if you lose the home, you will have nowhere else to go. You can help the court understand that some property is a matter of thriving or wilting.
If you are concerned about losing your essential property in a divorce, reach out to us for a free consultation. Our number is (305) 783-3301, and you can contact us online.