There are many moving pieces to a divorce. One of the most important is determining how a couple’s assets should be distributed. While courts take many factors into consideration in making the final determination, it can be helpful to have an overview of what matters to courts when determining asset distribution.
Is There an Enforceable Premarital Agreement?
Premarital agreements, often called “prenups,” are agreements couples enter into before marriage which describe what happens if the marriage ever ends. Many prenuptial agreements specify how assets are to be distributed, and courts will give this agreement deference providing the premarital agreement is found to be enforceable. A premarital agreement is generally found to be enforceable so long as there was full disclosure of the financial status of each party at the time of execution; the agreement is found to be fair and reasonable; and the agreement was entered into voluntarily by all parties.
What Marital Property Exists?
Marital property is all property that is acquired during marriage. This can include a car, house, appliances, works of art, and savings. It can also include retirement or pension benefits if they were acquired during marriage, though Social Security benefits are usually not subject to equitable distribution. Unexercised stock options are also considered marital property if they are acquired during marriage.
What is Not Included in Marital Property?
Typically, nonmarital property includes property acquired before the marriage, excluded by a premarital agreement, acquired by gift or inheritance, and even award or settlement payments received for a cause of action or claim which accrued before the marriage.
How Will Property be Divided?
While some states require there to be an exactly equal division of marital property, Florida follows the trend most states follow by requiring a “fair distribution” of marital property. This doesn’t necessarily mean an equal distribution of property.
Courts consider a broad array of factors when deciding how to distribute marital property, including:
- Length of marriage
- Prior marriages
- Age, health, earnings, earning potential, liabilities, and needs of both spouses
- Contributions to education
- Income, medical needs, and retirement of both spouses
- Homemaking and child-rearing services provided
- Value of separate property
- Reduction in valuation in marital property by one spouse
- Standard of living
- Economic circumstances of each spouse at the time of divorce
- Custody of any minor children
What Should I Do to Get Ready for a Division of Assets?
One of the most important things you can do is to make a list of all the assets you and your spouse acquired during marriage. An attorney can help you with this step, as well. While you are developing this list, be thinking about what assets are most important to you or necessary for you to live a productive, positive life moving forward.
What Should I Do If I Need a Divorce?
Divorce is a complicated process, one of the most complicated steps is the division of marital assets. If you are contemplating divorce and want to talk through your options, or even what to expect, the attorneys at Blair H. Chan III, PLLC, are here for you. Contact the experienced attorneys at Blair H. Chan III, PLLC, who are ready to help you through your divorce at every step of the way.