What Are Marital Assets and How Are They Distributed?

When you’re preparing for divorce in Florida, there are several steps you need to take. After you and your spouse have spent years or even decades as a couple, you both have to decide how some things will be shared- like child custody- and how others will be divided- like the marital assets. In this blog, we’ll explain how marital assets are defined and how they are distributed under Florida law.

What are Marital Assets?

Marital assets (also known as marital property) are defined in Florida Statute 61.075. They include:

  • Property acquired during the marriage. Either spouse can acquire the property or asset, and it doesn’t matter who actually holds title to it.
  • Any enhanced value of non-marital assets. For example, if you use marital funds to renovate a vacation home your mother left you and it doubles in value, that increased value can be considered marital property.
  • Gifts from one spouse to another.
  • Real and personal property held as tenants by the entireties. This means that you and your spouse jointly own and control the property, acquired it while married, and have an identical interest in it.
  • Certain retirement benefits that accumulated during the marriage.

In contrast, nonmarital assets (also known as separate property) include: 

  • Property acquired while you were still single.
  • Gifts given to you personally by someone other than your spouse.
  • Inheritances.
  • Income derived from non-marital assets, such as a rental property.
  • Any property excluded by a fair and valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

Sometimes the line between marital and nonmarital property becomes blurred, especially if certain assets are commingled. For example, if you inherited a house, but you and your spouse now live in that home, the home is now partially a marital asset. 

How Marital Assets Are Distributed in Florida

In Florida, divorcing couples are free to negotiate their own settlement agreement. This means that you can decide together how to divide all marital property. If you can’t agree, a judge will have to make that decision using Florida’s equitable distribution laws.

How Does Equitable Distribution Work?

Equitable distribution of assets typically means an equal division. However, it is important to note that this doesn’t always mean a 50-50 split. Instead, the court will aim for an outcome that’s as fair as possible to both sides. Factors that may be taken into consideration include:

  • The duration of the marriage;
  • Each spouse’s economic circumstance;
  • Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, including contributions to the children’s care and education;
  • Whether one spouse put their career or education on hold to care for children or further the other spouse’s career; and
  • Whether the marital home should be retained as a residence for dependent children.

It is important to work with a Lakeland divorce lawyer who can help you determine which assets belong to the marital estate, as well as assign a monetary value to each item. If assigning these values becomes too difficult, you may want to hire a professional appraiser. An accountant or forensic accountant may also be needed to assist with complicated items such as retirement funds or businesses.

In conclusion, divorcing couples who are willing to work together can create their own property division agreement. If they can’t agree, a Florida court will make that decision as fairly as possible. In both cases, your interests are best served by working with a Florida divorce lawyer who will protect your rights and help you secure the resources you need to move forward. To schedule a consultation, call Heather Bryan Law, P.A., at (863) 825-5309.

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Heather Bryan Law, P.A.

Our firm has experience defending Floridians against all sorts of criminal charges. Additionally, we are well-equipped to handle emotionally charged family law matters and devastating personal injury cases.

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