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Yours, Mine, & Ours: Property Rights During a Florida Divorce

Getting a divorce is stressful and can involve many different legal issues aside from simply ending a marriage. Florida parents who choose to end their relationships must work out custody and support plans for their kids, and some couples may have to address alimony plans between the parties to ensure that both have financially stable post-divorce lives. Most couples, regardless of their age or parenting status, will have to sort out how to divide up their property.

Real and personal property can constitute a great deal of a person’s wealth, and when they share that property with their spouse, they may experience a loss of capital security in the property division process. That is because in Florida and some other states throughout the nation property is divided according to equitable distribution principles.

Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean equal distribution for divorcing parties. If a Florida couple shares $100,000 worth of property it does not guarantee that each party will leave their marriage with $50,000 of it. Rather, equitable distribution looks at many factors to decide how the property the partners share should be divided up in order to provide them each with a fair distribution.

Florida law outlines some factors that courts can use to decide how to equitably divide up marital property. Some of those factors include:

  • Marital contributions from both the breadwinner and home-maker;
  • Disruptions to one partner’s career or education to support the other’s future;
  • Duration of the marriage;
  • Waste or destruction of property by either party in anticipation of divorce; and
  • Financial needs and resources of the parties.

Readers should remember that property division applies to marital property and not separate property. Married individuals can own property separate and apart from their spouses and own it without the other having interests in it. If a piece or parcel of property is deemed separate property it may be taken from the marriage by its individual owner.

Just as individuals can share or own separately certain items of property, they may also jointly or individually hold financial liabilities and debts. Those debts may relate to mortgages, credit card debts, car loans, student educational loans, and others. When the property division process occurs pursuant to a divorce, individuals also must address what will happen with their shared financial liabilities.

Property division can be a complicated part of settling one’s Florida divorce. It can help divorcing parties to have knowledgeable advocates to support them as they fight for their rights during their divorce litigation. Family law attorneys understand the laws that impact divorcing parties and work with clients who wish to protect their interests as they end their marriages.