Jacksonville Family Attorneys Ensuring Fair & Equitable Division of Marital Property
One of the major issues that must be settled when couples decide to divorce is how they will divide their property. Parties who cannot agree on a fair division of assets will ultimately need to rely on the courts for a final resolution. According to Florida law, marital assets and debts are to be divided following the principle of equitable distribution. Equitable distribution means that all property acquired during the marriage must be divided fairly, while property acquired prior to the marriage is exempted from division.
Some may confuse the terms “equitable” and “equal.” Equitable means a fair distribution and would not necessarily equate to a 50-50 split of all assets. In contested divorce cases involving litigation, this means there will be a lot of evidence presented by both sides for the court to consider. The attorneys at Mason Family Law can do a thorough asset search, compile evidence and help you develop a strategy that ensures that the division of marital property will be done fairly.
What is “Marital Property”?
Marital property is a broad term that covers several areas. Florida law states that marital property may include:
- Gifts exchanged between spouses during the marriage.
- Real estate.
- An LLC that holds a title to real estate.
- Benefits both vested and non-vested.
- 401(k) plans, pensions, stocks and bonds, and any other kind of investments.
- Value increase of pre-marital assets resulting from a spouse’s efforts during the marriage.
- Any owned business or professional practice.
- Other unique assets.
Property that is acquired prior to a marriage is deemed “non-marital property.” The same applies to inheritances or gifts received later on by a spouse. Any non-marital property as well as income derived from such property may be exempted from division. However, it is up to each party to prove what assets are marital and which are non-marital.
Factors to Consider in Division of Marital Assets
There are several factors the court will consider when determining which assets can be considered part of the marriage and part of the division:
- Duration of a marriage.
- Spouse’s wishes to hold onto certain assets.
- Financial contributions made by each spouse during the marriage.
- Career and educational status of each spouse.
- Number of dependent minor children.
Division of marital property can become further complicated by the co-mingling of assets. This can occur when some of the non-marital assets have been mixed in with the joint assets. For example, if one spouse uses funds from a business owned prior to the marriage to pay off the mortgage on a home jointly purchased during the marriage, he/she may have difficulty arguing that the home itself should be considered a non-marital asset.
Your Advocate Working for a Fair & Equitable Division
Because of the potential complications surrounding the division of marital property in Florida, it is important to seek an advocate that will work toward ensuring that the property division following your divorce is fair and equitable. The legal team at J. Demere Mason can guide you through this process and help you seek a resolution you will be happy with. Contact us at 904-726-8589 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.