Property Division
in a Florida Divorce

When divorcing spouses disagree on property division, a judge must identify marital assets, honor prenuptial agreements and order an equitable distribution of all assets. Dividing marital property can be a considerable concern, financially and emotionally, for people engaging in a divorce. Unfortunately, many spouses don’t know what to expect during this process or even understand their marital property rights under state law. It is important to understand the elements of the marital property division process to avoid an inequitable settlement or other adverse outcome.

Seeking legal advice from an experienced family law attorney early in the stages of a divorce can ensure that your rights are protected. Attorney Thomas R. Peppler has represented his clients’ legal needs and the local community for more than 40 years, achieving positive results in the complex and sensitive matters of divorce.

Choosing a process

The nature of the property division process depends mostly on whether spouses file for a contested or uncontested divorce. If a divorce is uncontested, spouses can work with each other and the legal system to reach an agreement regarding the distribution of assets and debts. However, in a contested divorce, a family law court must take several steps to identify an equitable distribution of marital property.

Categorization of property

First, the court must determine which property is marital and which property is separate. Under Florida Statutes, property is considered separate if a spouse acquired it before marriage, as an inheritance, or as a gift from someone besides the other spouse. Property purchased with separate proceeds is also usually considered separate property. All other assets and debts that a couple acquired while married are considered marital property and subject to equitable distribution.

Impacts of prenuptial agreements

When classifying and dividing property, family law courts must consider whether the divorcing spouses signed a premarital agreement. These agreements can dictate which property is classified as separate and how marital property is divided during a divorce. Family law courts generally must honor the provisions of a premarital agreement unless the agreement is unconscionable, was signed under duress, or was revoked via a written agreement between spouses.

Equitable distribution

All marital property must be distributed equitably if a couple lacks a premarital agreement or if this agreement does not address the division of marital assets and debts. Family law courts take several factors into account to identify an equitable arrangement, including:
  • Each spouse’s role in the marriage and contributions to marital property
  • Each spouse’s financial circumstances and the impact of any domestic roles or duties on a spouse’s earning power
  • Each spouse’s role in incurring marital liabilities or dissipating assets
  • Any contributions that one spouse made to the other’s career or earning power
  • The length of time that the spouses were married
  • The benefits of distributing a particular asset, such as the family house or a business, to one spouse
  • The court may also review any other factors that it considers relevant to reach a fair and balanced settlement.

Seeking reasonable settlements

During the property division process, there are several steps that spouses can take to protect their interests. These include checking that all marital assets have been accounted for and accurately presenting their own financial needs and marital contributions. Since both tasks may be difficult for people who lack legal experience, many spouses may benefit from consulting with an attorney. An attorney may offer advice on inventorying assets, documenting personal circumstances, and pursuing a more favorable property division.

Peppler Law P.A. offers Compassionate Guidance through both Simple and Complex Divorce Matters

The decision to dissolve a marriage causes a great deal of stress and uncertainty about the future. At Peppler Law P.A., we understand the sensitive issues surrounding divorce. Our focus is to provide long-term stability for our clients, financially and emotionally. We build close working relationships with our clients, keeping them informed about their options and their decisions’ financial consequences. Attorney Thomas R. Peppler has achieved an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating possible and distinguishes him from his peers. It is a testimony to his knowledge, professionalism, and integrity level.
Contact Peppler Law P.A. to discuss your questions and concerns about the property division of marital assets and debts. Our law office is located in Oviedo, Florida. We represent clients through Oviedo, Winter Springs, Orlando, and all of Orange and Seminole Counties. Contact our office at 407-792-6697.
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