During a divorce, one of the most difficult issues to resolve is equitable distribution. Basically, it is very difficult to determine who gets what. Fortunately in Florida, the Legislature has provided us a model or standard to determine the proper division of assets and liabilities ultimately. This division of property in a divorce is known as “equitable distribution.” Legitimate questions you might be asking are, “What will I get to keep?” What do I have to give over to my spouse?” “How does the court decide who gets what?”
According to Florida Statute Section 61.075, the court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution based on all relevant factors, including:
- The contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as homemaker.
- The economic circumstances of the parties.
- The duration of the marriage.
- Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party.
- The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other spouse.
- The desirability of retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, corporation, or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party.
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the nonmarital assets of the parties.
- The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent child of the marriage, or any other party, when it would be equitable to do so, it is in the best interest of the child or that party, and it is financially feasible for the parties to maintain the residence until the child is emancipated or until exclusive possession is otherwise terminated by a court of competent jurisdiction. In making this determination, the court shall first determine if it would be in the best interest of the dependent child to remain in the marital home; and, if not, whether other equities would be served by giving any other party exclusive use and possession of the marital home.
- The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition or within 2 years prior to the filing of the petition.
- Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
“Non-marital” assets are not subject to equitable distribution.
“Non-marital” assets include:
- Assets acquired and liabilities incurred by either party prior to the marriage, and assets acquired and liabilities incurred in exchange for such assets and liabilities;
- Assets acquired separately by either party by noninterspousal gift, bequest, devise, or descent, and assets acquired in exchange for such assets;
- All income derived from nonmarital assets during the marriage unless the income was treated, used, or relied upon by the parties as a marital asset;
- Assets and liabilities excluded from marital assets and liabilities by valid written agreement of the parties, and assets acquired and liabilities incurred in exchange for such assets and liabilities; and
- Any liability incurred by forgery or unauthorized signature of one spouse signing the name of the other spouse. Any such liability shall be a nonmarital liability only of the party having committed the forgery or having affixed the unauthorized signature. In determining an award of attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to s. 61.16, the court may consider forgery or an unauthorized signature by a party and may make a separate award for attorney’s fees and costs occasioned by the forgery or unauthorized signature. This subparagraph does not apply to any forged or unauthorized signature that was subsequently ratified by the other spouse.
The court may order one spouse to pay cash to another spouse, either paid in full or in installments. This issue of alimony is discussed elsewhere on our website. The remarriage of one of the spouses does not affect what was awarded from the previous marriage in equitable distribution. For more information on equitable distribution, schedule a free consultation with the Tampa divorce attorneys of Hackworth Law.