Disagreements about finances is the number one cause of arguments in marriage, as well as one of the most frequent causes of divorce. As such, it is not a stretch to say that the distribution of finances during divorce is the most complex, as well as heated, issue among divorcing spouses. Deciding who gets the family home versus who walks away with the retirement funds is a big decision, especially when assets cannot be split up and divided in cash. There is a lot that goes into the equitable division of assets in Miami divorces, and you need an experienced attorney who is qualified to handle such a large, and important job that will undoubtedly have life-long implications for you, and your children. Here at the Florida Divorce Law Group, our Miami equitable division attorneys work tirelessly for our clients and employ tried and trusted methods when it comes to obtaining desirable marital asset agreements and judgments in and out of the courtroom.
Equitable Division of Marital Assets
Marital assets are subject to division during divorce. This does not mean that everything you own, or your spouse owns, will be divided, as non-marital assets do not get divided during divorce. Non-marital assets are all debts and property owned before marriage, as well as certain other assets acquired during marriage such as inheritances or gifts given specifically to one spouse. Marital assets include all assets and liabilities incurred during the course of the marriage. The longer the marriage, the more marital assets, and fewer non-marital assets, a couple generally own. Examples of marital assets can include:
- Checking accounts;
- Savings accounts;
- Retirement accounts;
- 401(k) accounts;
- Stocks and bonds;
- Mutual funds;
- Work bonuses;
- Business assets;
- Real property;
- Fine art and antiques;
- Cash, gold, and other valuables;
- Home appliances;
- Sports equipment and other motor vehicles, such as boats or ATVs;
- Personal items; and
- Debt, including mortgages, student loans, and medical debt;
Factors Pertaining to Equitable Division of Assets in Florida Divorces
As per Florida statute 61.075, the court begins “with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution based on all relevant factors.” As such, you should never assume that the distribution of marital assets will be equal, as Florida divides assets equitably, which means “fairly.” The factors used to determine how these assets should be divided equitably include the following:
- Contribution each spouse made to the marriage, including non-monetary contributions such as the care and education of the children, as well as services performed as a homemaker;
- Length of the marriage;
- Economic situation of each party;
- Any sacrifices either party made to their career or educational opportunities;
- Any contribution either party made to enhance the education or career of the other party;
- Desirability of retaining an asset intact and free form the claim or interference of the other party, such as a business or professional practice;
- Contributions of either spouse to enhancing the income of the other spouse;
- Contributions of each spouse to incurring liabilities (debt);
- Desirability of retaining the marital home for any dependent child of the marriage when it is in the best interest of the child;
- Intentional waste or depletion (spending) of marital assets within two years of filing for divorce; and
- Any other factor that has the potential to do equity or justice between the parties.
What does this all mean? Just because one spouse was the main or sole breadwinner, they will not automatically be handed the majority of the marital assets. The contributions that the homemaker or child-raiser will be taken into account. Any sacrifices to one's own career or education, for the betterment of the other spouse, will be taken into account. Furthermore, misdeeds of one spouse can also be used against them, as the court can decide to create justice for the victimized spouse in the form of receiving a higher percentage of the marital assets than they would have received otherwise.
How Pre- or Post-Nuptial Agreements Alter Equitable Distribution of Marital Assets
According to The Harvard Gazette, 5% to 10% of marriages have prenuptial agreements—a financial agreement put in place before marriage documents are signed that specifies how certain assets are kept separate from marital property. In some circumstances, a marriage may have a postnuptial agreement—a similar document signed by both parties after marriage. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can be thrown out in court if they are written poorly or contain unlawful elements. However, a valid nuptial agreement can essentially completely alter the way division of assets is carried out during divorce.
Discovering Hidden Assets
Our financial experts are responsible not only for valuing real property and tallying savings accounts; part of our job is also to ensure that your spouse has no hidden assets. It is not uncommon for spouses who are going through a messy divorce to hide assets from one another. Some choose offshore bank accounts or secret safety deposit boxes, while others use even more obtuse methods, such as hoarding cash and hiding it in the attic. It takes time and precise accounting to track down all forms of property and debt, and your attorney needs to be prepared to put in the hard work so that your financial future is not put in jeopardy by the unlawful misdeeds of your spouse.
Contact Our Miami Division of Marital Assets Attorneys Today for Assistance
Whether you worked a lifetime at a high-stressed job to support your family, you sacrificed your own career ambitions to raise the children or support your spouse, or you did it all, our Miami divorce attorneys can help you receive a fair portion of the marital assets. We work diligently for our clients when it comes to discovery of assets, uncovering hidden bank accounts, and proving in and out of the courtroom the hard work and sacrifices made by our clients during the course of their marriage. For professional help with your divorce, contact the Florida Divorce Law Group today at 1-866-240-0730 to schedule a free consultation to get started at once.