Asset Division: Deciding Who Gets What
By far the most complex part of any divorce is usually asset division. While Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that the couple’s assets will be divided according to fairness rather than a strict 50-50 split, it can be difficult even within the equitable framework to decide who gets what, and which asset may offset the value of another. There is no set formula, but there are some rules of thumb.
Starting From Equal
Unlike many other states, Florida law on asset division starts from a somewhat unique place. While the state uses equitable distribution theory, Sec. 61.075 states that a court’s division of assets will begin from the premise that “distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification” for altering it. Justification may come from a host of different factors considered by the court, some of which include:
- Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, which includes one spouse being a homemaker or stay-at-home parent;
- The duration of the marriage;
- Each spouse’s present and future earning potential;
- Any misuse or dissipation of marital assets;
- How much each spouse contributed to the purchase and upkeep of an asset, such as the marital home; and
- Several other factors that are largely case-dependent.
This may lead to asset distribution becoming unequal, but in general that is not the case. Don’t expect a court to divide assets unequally – it rarely happens.
In some rare circumstances, a court will take a close look at one specific asset or group of assets, to ensure the item goes to the person who will make the best use of it, or to see if equity would be better served by selling the asset and dividing the proceeds. Commonly this happens with the marital home, as it cannot be physically divided. If a couple has school-age children, a court may grant the custodial parent the right to live in the home temporarily, but in many situations, the court will order the home sold and the proceeds distributed after the children graduate.
Another asset that may be divided differently is a family business. A family business has the most value in many cases when it is run by one spouse or the other. A sale due to divorce may net in little cash. Usually the spouse who was most active in the business will buy the other out. In this situation, a business will be valued by a professional.
Get an Asset Division Attorney On Your Side
Due to the complex nature of asset division in Florida, it is absolutely critical to have a knowledgeable attorney in your corner. The Orlando divorce attorneys at the law firm of Goodblatt · Leo are happy to help guide you through the time-consuming process. Contact us today via phone or on our website to set up an initial appointment.