In Florida, property division laws govern how marital assets and debts are divided between spouses during a divorce. The state follows the principle of equitable distribution: property and debts are divided fairly, but not necessarily equally.
To understand how property division works in Florida, it’s important first to understand what constitutes marital property.
Separate and marital property
Marital property is any property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, including real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and personal property. Property that was owned by one person before the marriage and gifts are not usually part of the division process.
There is a three-step process used in Florida to divide marital property: Identify and value marital assets and debts, determine if any assets or debts are exempt from division and divide the remaining assets and debts.
Factors that impact the property division process
Some of the factors that may be considered in dividing marital property include:
- The length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s financial resources
- Each spouse’s earning capacity
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage (both financial and non-financial)
- Each spouse’s health and age
- Whether one spouse has primary custody of any children
- Whether one spouse dissipated marital assets (e.g., spent money on an affair)
It’s important to note that Florida is a no-fault divorce state, which means that fault (such as adultery) is generally not considered in property division. However, if one spouse dissipated marital assets, that may be considered. Sometimes, spouses can agree on property division outside of court through mediation or negotiation. However, if the spouses cannot agree, the court will decide based on the abovementioned factors.
Property division laws in Florida require a thorough examination of all assets and debts and the division of those assets and debts in a manner that is fair and just. Knowing your rights is essential to protect them.