During the course of any marriage, the parties most certainly acquire certain assets and incur liabilities in either their own names individually or jointly as a married couple. Likewise, in many instances spouses enter into a marriage bringing their own assets or debts which existed prior to the marriage, or often acquire assets through inheritance or gift during the marriage which are intended solely for that spouse and not the other spouse.
Under Chapter 61 of the Florida Statutes governing dissolution of marriage, the Court shall equitably distribute the assets and liabilities acquired or incurred during the marriage in the divorce action. Prior to making this equitable distribution, the Court must distinguish between which assets and debts are marital and which are non-marital. This issue can become convoluted and complex based on how the parties have conducted themselves financially during the marriage and whether various assets have been kept separate or commingled, have been relied upon as security for loans, have been gifted between the parties, or whether marital appreciation has attached to a non-marital asset.
The Court has jurisdiction to award, provide exclusive use of, or sometimes to sell a marital home depending on the circumstances, as well as any other real property acquired during the marriage. Likewise, the Court may award interests in closely held corporations, intangible assets, personal property, and even retirement and pension interests acquired during the marriage to either or both of the spouses, or even liquidate any of such assets in order to achieve equitable distribution of the assets and liabilities.
Likewise, the Court assigns the debt and liability incurred during the marriage to either or both of the spouses depending on the overall circumstances of the equitable distribution and the nature of the debt.
Like alimony and spousal support, the issue of equitable distribution is not so clear cut that the Court necessarily effectuates an equal or 50/50 division of assets and liabilities, but rather relies on several statutory factors to determine whether an uneven distribution may be appropriate. Thus, while the starting point and premise is that the distribution should be equal, there may be justification for deviation based on various factors.
At the Law Offices of Jonathan A. Zahler, P.A., we have extensive experience in complex equitable distribution cases and are committed to providing our vast knowledge in our excellent representation for our clientele.