Dividing Your Assets & Debts
Divorce is often described as an emotionally draining experience. In most cases, emotions run high when a relationship splits given all of the changes, such as moving to a new place, changes in a child's living arrangements, changes in financial status, and more. No attorney can stop the emotions that come with a divorce. However, an experienced family law attorney can ensure that you are prepared for what will occur every step of the way. One part of a divorce that most divorcing couples must complete is equitable distribution.
Understanding Equitable Distribution
Equitable distribution is the court process of dividing one's assets or items that the parties own. When looking to distribute the assets equitably, the court will only consider splitting marital property. Marital property consists of those assets that were acquired during the marriage. Therefore, the court will only decide on those assets obtained after the date of marriage and before the date of separation.
During the equitable distribution process, the court will divide not only marital assets but also matrimonial debts. This includes any debts acquired during the marriage. Equitable distribution of marital assets occurs regardless of whose name the property was purchased. However, there are circumstances, such as in the case of inheritance, in which one party's property will remain separate.
Equitable Distribution Factors
Equitable distribution does not mean that property will be distributed equally. Equitable in family court means fair, not equal. Many clients become anxious when they learn this. However, there are many factors that the court considers before determining how to divide assets and debts fairly. These factors include:
- Economic Circumstances of the parties: The judge will consider each party's financial circumstances at the time of a divorce. If one side has a significant amount of resources, the court will consider this when distributing funds from employment or otherwise. The goal is not to burden the spouse who has more limited resources.
- Length of Marriage and Contributions by the Parties: The court will also consider the length of the marriage compared to the contributions of each party during the marriage when determining how to divide assets.
- Dissipation: The court will also look at the parties' spending in the two years just before the divorce to determine whether one spouse intentionally wasted marital funds.
These are just a few of the factors that the court considers when determining how to distribute property. As in most divorce cases, you need the assistance of an experienced attorney to determine how your case's specific circumstances will impact equitable distribution in your case.
If you have questions about your divorce, we invite you to contact us to schedule a consultation with an experienced Jacksonville divorce lawyer. At Florida Divorce Law Group, we practice family law throughout Florida, and we have consultation offices in Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, and Miami. We also have Zoom video meetings available, and of course, phone consultations.