Marital and Non-Marital Property in Divorce
Second only to resolving matters involving minor children of the marriage, the division of the property and debt of a marriage are the most critical issues to resolve in a divorce. Florida is an “equitable distribution” state, which sounds like each spouse is entitled to 50 percent of the assets and is responsible for 50 percent of the debt of the marriage. Sounds simple enough, right? Not exactly. There are many factors and considerations which may impact the allocation of assets and liabilities of property during and after a divorce. This includes, but is not limited to, a determination as to whether the property or debt in question is marital property or non-marital property.
Marital property is a legal term that refers to assets and debts acquired during the marriage, regardless of how the property is titled or who incurred the debt. An example would be the purchase of a car during a marriage, being titled in only one name, remains an asset or debt of both spouses during a divorce proceeding. Or, if one spouse runs up credit card debt in their name, it is still the responsibility of both to pay off the debt. However, the court does take into consideration a spouse that is spending recklessly in anticipation of a divorce. Assets and debts become complicated if there was property or business acquired prior to a marriage and the value of the property or business was enhanced during the time of the marriage. This can occur, either through the addition of marital funds or the work of both spouses. Other examples of marital property include the earnings of both spouses, bank accounts, retirement and investment accounts.
Non-marital property is that which is protected from your spouse’s settlement in a divorce decree. Property owned or acquired prior to marriage is considered premarital property and can be excluded from a divorce settlement in certain circumstances. An example would be the purchase of a house prior to marriage. Just because you owned your home prior to the marriage does not mean that your spouse does not have a claim for a portion of the equity in the value of the home. The law allows for a calculation of the marital portion of a premarital asset. This is a very legally specific calculation for which you should consult with an experienced family law attorney.
Sandra K. Ambrose, P.A. is a Dedicated and Accomplished Divorce Attorney
The prospect of divorce is devastating on many levels and the division of property and debts further intensifies these emotions. If you are considering divorce it is likely that you have many concerns about the division of property and associated liabilities. Let us be your advocate during this tumultuous time. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation. Call today at (407) 388- 8740.