Image of a group of homes or property for the division of marital assets in a Florida divorce

When a married couple files for divorce in Florida, there will be an “equitable distribution” or the division of marital assets and liabilities. See Florida divorce law 61.075. Usually, the court will divide marital assets and liabilities 50/50 unless there are factors that would make an equal split inequitable. Usually, the first step is to determine if the asset or debt is marital or separate property. Only marital property/ debt is subject to equitable distribution by a court.

Divorce can be a stressful and frightening time; it is the end of a marriage. There is a lot at stake in the outcome and especially for high asset divorce cases. There are unique challenges to a divorce when the parties involved have a substantial net worth. In cases such as these, it is crucial to hire an attorney who knows the law and can understand complex financial investments. Additionally, you will want an attorney who has a good reputation with expert witnesses to be used in your case. Typical witnesses include forensic accountants, auditors, appraisers, and social investigators. If you need assistance with a divorce, call Florida Law Advisers to speak with a high asset divorce attorney in Tampa.

Will I Lose My Assets in The Divorce?

Generally, the first step is to classify each asset and debt as either marital or separate property. Only marital property/ debt is subject to equitable distribution; separate property will remain the property of the spouse who owns it. Usually, this is a straightforward process; however, it can be very complex in high asset divorces. Therefore, it is crucial to hire an attorney who is well versed in high asset divorces and can aggressively represent your interests.

Under Florida divorce law, separate property may be classified as marital property under certain circumstances.  For instance, if the separate property has been commingled with your spouse or other marital property, it may be subject to equitable distribution. See Woodard v. Woodard.  A typical example of a comingled property is when a couple lives in a home purchased before the marriage by one spouse and uses marital funds to pay the mortgage or make home improvements. Generally, when equal access to the separate property is granted to the spouse, it may become marital property. See Florida divorce case Terreros v. Terreros. Determining if a separate property has been commingled with marital property is based on the specific facts of each case. Therefore, you should seek the counsel of an experienced Tampa divorce attorney for information about a particular set of circumstances.

Will The Home Be Divided in a Divorce?

When a homeowner wants to sell the property as part of a divorce, they will need to include a partition claim in the divorce paperwork. If the partition is granted, the home may be divided amongst the parties or sold, with the proceeds being divided amongst the couple. If the home is divided, an appraisal will likely be needed. Otherwise, it may be complicated to assign a correct value to the home.

Typically, if the home is not sold as part of the divorce, one spouse will be required to make the monthly mortgage payments. However, if the spouse is required to make payments fails to pay, both parties may still be liable to the bank. If both parties signed the promissory note, the divorce settlement would not abolish a spouse’s obligation to the bank. The bank is not a party to the divorce case and did not consent to any such agreement. Instead, the spouse will need to seek indemnification from the party required to pay under the divorce settlement agreement. A common way to avoid this issue is requiring a refinance to be completed to release the non-paying party from liability by the bank.

Who Keeps The Pets in a Divorce?

Under Florida divorce law, the court will not allow for any time-sharing orders of pets. Instead, one of the parties will have sole ownership of the pet. Thus, if a couple wants to share custody of their pet, they have to work it out themselves. A Florida family law judge cannot order the couple to share custody of a pet. See Florida divorce case, Bennett v. Bennett. They cannot share custody of a pet because Florida law views pets as property and applies Florida property law, not custody law. If the party with sole ownership decides to share time with the pets, it will be at his or her discretion.

Are Credit Cards Divided in a Florida Divorce?

Credit cards and other debts acquired during the marriage are also subject to equitable distribution. Credit card debt incurred during the marriage is usually marital property, even if only one spouse is on the account. Therefore, the credit card will be subject to equitable distribution and potentially divided amongst the spouses.

Student Loans in Divorce

Student loan debt can be an enormous amount of money and, in some cases, even more significant than a couple’s mortgage. Generally, student loan debt incurred during the marriage is a marital liability and subject to equitable distribution. See Adams v. Cook.  Thus, the debt will be equally divided be unless there are factors that would make an equal split inequitable. That a non-borrowing spouse will not receive any benefit from the student’s education is not enough for an unequal division. See Smith v. Smith. Future earnings as a result of the higher education will also likely not be considered in the case. See Hughes v. Hughes

In Rogers v. Rogers, the parties filed for divorce after eight years of marriage. During the marriage, the wife incurred over $23,000 in student loan debt; the husband did not incur any student loans.  The court ruled that the student loan debt was to be divided equally between the husband and wife, despite the fact the wife did not begin working as a paralegal until after the divorce.

Prenuptial Agreements

Premarital agreements, commonly known as prenups, are essentially a contract the couple signs before the marriage. The contract determines the distribution of assets, debts, alimony, and other issues in the event of a divorce.  A prenuptial agreement can allow you to modify specific provisions of Florida divorce law to fit your particular circumstances better. A well-executed Florida prenuptial agreement will allow you to set forth the terms of the divorce. Rather than a judge dictating the distribution of your assets and the amount of spousal support awarded.

How To Receive More Than 50% of The Marital Property

Generally, the judge in a Florida divorce case will start with the premise of dividing marital assets 50/50 between the two parties. In Florida, the law requires that a court equally distribute a marital asset unless a “legally sufficient justification for an unequal distribution is given based on the relevant statutory factors.” Foley v. Foley. For help with how to unequally divide marital assets, contact a divorce attorney in Tampa. Obtaining an unequal distribution of a marital asset in Florida can be very difficult without legal counsel.

The relevant statutory factors under Florida Statute 61.075 include the following:

(a) The contribution to the marriage by each spouse.

(b) The economic circumstances of the parties.

(c) The duration of the marriage.

(d) Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party.

(e) The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other spouse.

(f) The desirability of retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, corporation, or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party.

(g) The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the nonmarital assets of the parties.

(h) The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent child of the marriage.

(i) The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition or within 2 years prior to the filing of the petition.

Consult a 5-Star Tampa Divorce Law Firm

If you are contemplating filing for divorce and are concerned about how to divide marital assets, call us today to speak with a divorce attorney in Tampa. Our divorce lawyers have years of experience helping people with their divorce and child custody disputes. Every divorce is different, and our vast experience allows us to cater our services to each client’s individual situation. Whether a couple mutually agrees to the terms of a divorce or are engaged in a fierce battle for their property and child custody rights, Florida Law Advisers, P.A. can help. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and offer a free initial consultation. Call us today at 800 990 7763 to speak with a divorce attorney in Tampa.


Frequently Asked Questions

What happens to the home in a divorce?

Are debts divided in a divorce?

How is property divided in a divorce?

Is property I had prior to marriage divided in a divorce?

Will I lose half my savings in a divorce?

What to do if spouse empties the bank account?

Is an appraisal necessary in a divorce?

Will a Prenuptial Agreement Protect my Assets?

Are student loans divided in Florida divorce?

Who keeps the pets in a divorce?