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Sunshine on the great divide: property division in Florida

A marriage is not unlike a business partnership; it begins with two like-minded individuals, it builds and grows over time, assets and debts accumulate, and each partner has a role to play to keep it functioning. However, marriages, like businesses, sometimes come to an end. The possible reasons are manifold, but the results are the same. The partnership is finished, and the company has to be dissolved and divided between the partners.

This may seem like an unemotional way to look at your marriage, but removing emotions may be the best way to get through your divorce, especially the process of dividing the marital assets. Here is a quick look at what to expect during the property division phase of a divorce.

Equal vs. equitable

The law in some states treats marital assets as community property and divides them equally. In Florida, however, the assets and debts of a marriage are subject to equitable division. This means each party gets what the judge considers a "fair" share of the property. While this may mean an even division, a 50/50 split is unlikely.

A judge reviews numerous factors before issuing a decision. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Contributions to the marriage, including financial, care of any children and maintaining of the home
  • Individual economic situations, such as income or potential for income
  • Length of the marriage
  • Whether the home should be kept for the residence of a child

Special considerations for property division

There are certain circumstances that may warrant special attention during the division of marital assets in Florida. If one of the assets is, for example, a business or an interest in a corporation, the judge may consider what is best for the business. If it is determined it would be in the best interest of that business to be free from possible interference from the other spouse, the asset may go entirely to one party.

A judge may also consider any financial improprieties committed by either party leading up to the divorce. Willful waste, depletion or dissipation of the marital assets may be grounds for an increased share for the other party.

Don't go in unprepared

Asset division is just one of many aspects of a divorce, some of which can be quite complicated. In order for you to have the best opportunity to secure a truly fair portion of the marital property, proper preparation is a must. Your preparation may include working with a skilled attorney who has taken on numerous divorce cases in the past. A dedicated and tenacious lawyer will fight for your rights and can significantly increase your odds of achieving the best possible outcome from your divorce.

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