Divorce is challenging both emotionally and logistically. Among the many hurdles divorcing couples face, understanding property division often tops the list. Florida, being an "equitable distribution" state, has its specific rules governing property division in divorce cases. However, with a myriad of misconceptions surrounding the process, it's vital to separate fact from fiction. Below, we debunk some of the most prevalent myths about property division in Florida.
Myth #1: Equitable Means Equal**
Debunked: While "equitable" sounds similar to "equal," it doesn't necessarily mean a 50-50 split. Instead, Florida courts strive for a fair distribution based on various factors, such as each spouse's contribution to the marriage, the duration of the marriage, and the economic circumstances of each party.
Myth #2: Only Assets Acquired During the Marriage are Divided
Debunked: While marital assets (those acquired during the marriage) are subject to division, certain non-marital assets can also come into play. This might occur if non-marital assets were commingled with marital ones or if marital funds were used to enhance non-marital property.
Myth #3: The Person in Whose Name the Property is Titled Keeps It
Debunked: The name on the title does not exclusively determine ownership in a divorce. If marital funds were used to acquire the property, it could be deemed a marital asset and thus be subject to division.
Myth #4: Gifts Between Spouses Remain with the Receiver
Debunked: Not always. If one spouse gifts the other a valuable item during the marriage, it might still be considered marital property and subject to distribution unless there was a clear intention that it remain separate.
Myth #5: Separate Bank Accounts Mean Separate Property
Debunked: Merely holding assets in a separate account doesn't shield them from division. If the funds in the account were earned or accumulated during the marriage, they might be considered marital assets.
Myth #6: Inheritances are Always Safe from Division
Debunked: While inheritances are typically considered separate property, they can become marital assets if they're commingled or used for the mutual benefit of both spouses.
Myth #7: The Court Always Sides with the Lower-Earning Spouse
Debunked: While the economic situation of each spouse is a factor in property division, Florida courts aim for fairness, not favoritism. The court will assess the whole picture, including contributions to the marriage (financial and non-financial) and each party's future economic prospects.
Myth #8: Debts are Split Equally
Debunked: Just as with assets, debts are divided equitably. Factors such as which party incurred the debt and for what purpose play a role in deciding who bears the liability.
Understanding property division in Florida is crucial to ensuring a fair outcome in your divorce proceedings. Don't let myths and misconceptions cloud your judgment or lead to unwarranted assumptions. For accurate and personalized guidance, consult a Florida-based family law attorney who can provide clarity on your unique situation.