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Divorce in Florida: equitable property distribution

In the case of a divorce, one of the greatest issues to resolve is the distribution of assets and liabilities between the spouses. According to Florida statutes, the state operates under the process of equitable distribution. This concept means that marital assets are split evenly between the spouses in most cases. However, the statutes also outline a series of potential exceptions. Generally, only assets that are acquired within the duration of the marriage are considered marital and eligible for equitable distribution. Assets which may not be distributed evenly are called nonmarital.

The Naples Daily Chronicle explores some of the situations in which unequal distribution may be granted. One such factor is the lack of contribution of one spouse. This is not limited solely to financial gain. For instance, a spouse who has not worked outside the home, but has cared for the house and children, may still be considered a legitimate contributor to the marriage. That spouse may therefore be granted an equal distribution of assets.

One spouse may not have a claim to an equitable share of an asset owned by the other spouse under certain circumstances. Gifts given to one spouse during the marriage are generally considered nonmarital if they are not used to promote financial gain for the couple. If a spouse wants to protect an inheritance or other large gift from being divided in the event of a divorce, the asset should be placed in a separate account and not invested or used to grow financially. That way, the asset will generally be granted to the original recipient in its entirety.

One tricky area involves assets acquired before the marriage. Generally, they would be considered nonmarital. However, if the spouses invest money into that asset and it appreciates in value, it may become, at least partially, a marital asset. Both spouses may then have a financial claim to that asset.

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