If you are getting divorced in the state of Florida, the courts follow a rigid guideline in the equitable distribution of all marital property. What does that really mean? Simply put, all assets and liabilities determined to be “marital,” or shared between both husband and wife while married, are assessed and then distributed evenly to both parties after the dissolution proceeding. But this begs the question: What about my non-marital assets, or assets that will not be factored into the court’s equitable distribution analysis? Because Florida distinguishes between marital and non-marital assets, if a wife believes that some piece of property she acquired before marriage should not be considered in the distribution of marital property, it is her obligation to show the court why that asset is a non-marital.
Florida courts generally presume that all assets and liabilities incurred after the exact date you get married are marital for purposes of equitable distribution in a dissolution of marriage proceeding. However, if you are a spouse with the premarital property and feel your husband is not entitled to share in that asset, look to the example mentioned above, you can defeat this presumption by a showing of why the assets and liabilities are non-marital. Because the division of assets and liabilities is one of the major concerns when couples are going through a divorce, it is a great idea to draft a list of all assets and liabilities and label them either marital or non-marital before the dissolution proceeding begins – this could save you a lot of time later on. To help you and the courts decided categorization, the Florida Legislature has enacted a statute that creates a list of assets and liabilities that are considered marital or non-marital.
Martial assets and liabilities include: (1) assets and liabilities incurred during marriage, either individually or both spouses; (2) increased value and appreciation of non-martial assets due to the efforts of either party during the marriage or because marital funds contributed to that increased value; (3) gifts one spouse gives to the other during that marriage; and (4) all vested and non-vested benefits, rights, and funds that came due during the marriage (including retirement, pension, profit-sharing, annuity, deferred compensation, and insurance plans). It is also presumed that all real and personal property held as tenants by the entirety is marital, regardless of whether the property was purchased before or during marriage.
Nonmarital assets and liabilities include the following: (1) assets and liabilities incurred before you got married; (2) assets acquired individually by either spouse by non-interspousal gift, bequest, devise, or descent, or any exchange for these assets; (3) all income received from non-marital assets during the marriage unless that income was used or relied on by the spouses as a marital asset; (4) assets excluded based on a valid written agreement made by the parties (think: pre-nuptial agreement!); and (5) liabilities incurred by one spouse as a result of the other’s forgery or unauthorized signature of that spouse’s name.
In Florida, all assets obtained during marriage will be considered marital until the date the parties enter into a valid separation agreement (that may include a different date to consider) or the date a petition for dissolution of marriage is filed with the court. If you are in the beginning stages of a divorce, consult with an attorney to know what your rights are in regards to your marital and non-marital property.
Anndrew M Smith
P.S. If you are currently going through a divorce, or considering a divorce, I can help you. I have a proven track record of helping local South Florida Families resolve their legal issues. You can reach me at 561-961-4665.