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Understanding how Florida divides assets during a divorce

Getting a divorce generally means a lot of social and financial uncertainty. You may not know where you will live, what days of the week you can see your children or how much you'll still have of your retirement savings. Unless you have an ironclad prenuptial agreement on record for your marriage, it can be quite difficult to predict the likely outcome to the asset division process.

The more assets a couple has and the longer they've been married, the more complicated the asset division process becomes. Even separate assets may have ended up co-mingled with marital assets over the years. Understanding how Florida courts handle the asset division process can help you better understand the likely outcome of the process.

Florida is an equitable division state

When it comes to marital property, Florida has laws that make it an equitable division state. The courts will look at a variety of factors to decide how to split up assets and debts in a manner that is equitable and fair. To some people, that may sound like 50/50 division of marital assets, but many times there is much more nuance to the final division than that. The courts will look at a number of actors to decide what is fair.

Generally, the courts begin with the assumption that fair division is even, but there may be grounds for unequal distribution. These include the contributions of each spouse to the marriage, including care for children and work in the home, the income and economic situation of each spouse, the length of the marriage, whether one spouse ended or paused a career or education due to the marriage, custody of any minor children, and intentional waste or dissipation of marital assets within two years leading up to the divorce. The details of the situation will guide the asset division process from there.

Understanding what assets get divided and which ones won't

For the purpose of divorce, almost all assets and debts acquired during the marriage become marital property. Some items, such as gifts or an inheritance, may remain the separate property of one spouse. Nearly everything else may be subject to division. It doesn't matter whose name is on an account or whose employer created the retirement plan. It matters when the couple acquired the assets.

Generally speaking, retirement funds and separate bank accounts can end up divided between spouses, as can pensions or even collections, including valuables. In some cases, the courts could award certain assets to one spouse while offsetting their value with other assets. One spouse, for example, could retain all the equity in the home while the other receives the retirement account. Other times, assets get divided in a more direct manner.