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Asset Division Attorney in Orlando, Florida

Florida is an "equitable distribution" state, meaning the court assumes all marital assets and debts should be divided equally. 

However, numerous exceptions to this rule exist, raising questions about the marital versus non-marital status of property in certain cases. As an Orlando divorce attorney, I can attest that equitable distribution is essential in any dissolution of marriage action. 

If you're going through a divorce and are concerned about how your assets and debts will be divided, it's important to put skilled legal support in your corner. I'll work hard to minimize disputes between you and your ex and protect the property that rightfully belongs to you. Contact The Spence Law Firm in Orlando, Florida, today to schedule a free consultation.  

Understanding Marital Property vs. Non-Marital Property 

When a couple goes through a divorce in Florida, the court will divide their assets and debts in a way that is considered fair and equitable. This means that all marital assets and debts are subject to division, regardless of whose name they are in. 

But what exactly is considered marital property? And how can you ensure that your non-marital property is protected during the divorce process? 

Marital property refers to any assets or debts that were acquired during the marriage by either spouse. This includes income earned, property purchased, and even retirement benefits accrued during the marriage. It also includes any increase in value of these assets or debts, even if only one spouse contributed to it. 

On the other hand, non-marital property refers to any assets or debts that were acquired by either you or your spouse before the marriage, as well as any gifts or inheritances received by one of you during the marriage. Non-marital property also includes any assets or debts specifically designated as non-marital in a prenuptial agreement. 

An Overview of Asset Division & How It Works in Florida 

Florida Statutes section 61.075 governs equitable distribution, which requires that the marital assets and debts of the divorcing couple must be identified and then divided fairly.   

Before that can be done, though, the non-marital assets and debts of the divorcing party must be identified and separated from the marital assets and liabilities. 

The court will generally assume that all assets and liabilities acquired during the marriage are marital unless a party can prove that a particular asset or debt belongs primarily to one spouse. Examples include:  

  • Property or money that each spouse owned before getting married. 

  • Gifts received through inheritance. 

  • Personal injury awards. 

  • Any property identified in a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement. 

When a couple purchases a house together, it will likely be considered a joint investment and thus marital property. The same is true of an individual’s retirement account, 401(k), or savings account if that person’s spouse made contributions to it during the marriage. Marital assets also include the appreciation in value of non-marital assets.   

Property acquired before marriage is typically non-marital while property acquired during marriage is typically marital property. 

The distinction is important because marital assets are subject to distribution while non-marital assets remain the property of the individual spouse. The party who acquired the nonmarital asset or liability will keep it free from the claims of the other spouse. 

The distribution of property and liabilities affects the court's decision on alimony. First, property and debts are divided, then the court assesses financial need versus the ability to pay. 

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Equitable Doesn’t Always Mean Equal 

A 50/50 distribution of marital debts and liabilities is the starting point required by section 61.075, but the court can vary from that initial starting point of distribution and do equity. In other words, the court can grant an unequal share of the marital property to one party over the other, depending on the following factors: 

  • Each spouse's contribution to the marriage, including time dedicated to childcare, education, and homemaking services. 

  • The economic circumstances of both parties. 

  • The duration of the marriage. 

  • Any disruption of a professional career or education by either spouse. 

  • One spouse's support towards the other's career or educational opportunities. 

  • The desirability of one spouse retaining assets, such as business ownership, free from claims by the other party. 

  • Each spouse's contribution to income generation or the accumulation of liabilities related to marital and non-marital assets. 

  • The desirability of retaining the marital home for the benefit of the dependent children, when equitable. 

  • Intentional dissipation, waste, or depletion of marital assets after filing the petition or within two years prior. 

  • Any other factors that would promote fairness between the parties. 

How the Court Divides Your Property & Debts 

The court must apply a presumption in favor of equal distribution when making an award, even if there is no evidence to show which party contributed to a particular item.  

If there is no evidence or argument proffered about a party’s actual contributions to any asset, the asset is treated as having been equally acquired.   

Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and cryptocurrency are counted as property subject to distribution under section 61.075(1)(b), even if they are not in the name of the person seeking distribution. 

An unequal division of marital property may be made only if the record contains evidentiary support for the qualitative and quantitative contributions of each spouse or either spouse’s contribution to the acquisition or dissipation of marital assets. 

How Can a Lawyer Help Me Protect My Property? 

In a divorce, a skilled attorney can provide invaluable assistance in several key areas to protect your property. They'll know how to meticulously review financial records, prenuptial agreements, and other relevant documents to strategically assert claims on non-marital assets, ensuring they are clearly delineated and protected throughout the legal proceedings. 

A proficient family law attorney will advocate on your behalf during negotiations and court hearings to achieve a fair distribution of marital assets and liabilities. This involves presenting a strong case based on the contributions each spouse has made to the marriage, including financial support, childcare, homemaking, and career development.  

For those navigating high-asset divorces, a knowledgeable attorney is essential for protecting complex assets such as businesses, investments, and retirement accounts. They will work to ensure these assets are accurately valued and divided in a way that protects your financial future. 

By leveraging legal experience and a client-centric approach, I'm committed to protecting your interests, minimizing conflicts, and striving for an outcome that allows you to move forward with confidence and financial security. 

Asset Division Attorney in Orlando, Florida

In all cases, it’s important to hire a family lawyer in Orlando who will protect what’s rightfully yours. Contact me at The Spence Law Firm for a free consultation with a knowledgeable equitable distribution attorney. I'm proud to work with clients throughout Orange County, Florida, and the surrounding areas including Oak Ridge, Pine Hills, Lockhart, Maitland, Azalea Park, Osceola County, Lake County, & Seminole County.