In Florida, marital property is divided between divorcing parties equitably. Generally, marital property is any property acquired during a marriage. However, it is possible for even property acquired before a marriage to be considered marital property. For example, if a spouse used marital assets to grow a business they started before marriage, that business will be considered marital property during divorce. Equitable distribution does not mean divorcing parties will walk away with an equal share of marital property. Sometimes, divorcing parties walk away with an unequal share of marital property. However, courts are required to always begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal. The court is only allowed to order an unequal distribution of marital assets if there is a justification for such distribution based on all relevant factors.
Factors to Consider When Distributing Marital Assets
According to Florida Statute 61.075, in distributing marital assets to divorcing spouses, judges are required to begin with the assumption that the distribution should be equal. A judge can only order an unequal distribution if, after considering all relevant factors, they find there is a justification for dividing marital assets unequally.
The following are some of the factors courts are required to consider when determining how to distribute marital assets;
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage
- How long the spouses have been married
- Each of the spouse’s economic circumstances
- If either party’s careers or educational opportunities were interrupted during the marriage
- The desirability to keep an asset
- The intentional waste, dissipation, destruction, or depletion of marital assets
When Can Marital Property be Divided Unequally?
The following are some of the circumstances when a judge is justified to order an unequal distribution of marital assets during divorce;
- Intentional waste, dissipation, destruction, or depletion of marital assets – If, during the marriage, one spouse intentionally wasted, dissipated, destroyed, or depleted marital assets at the expense of the other spouse, the court is allowed to order an unequal distribution of assets.
- Disproportionately large contributions of property – If, for example, one of the spouses contributed more of their non-marital assets to acquire marital assets, the court might order the spouse who contributed more to receive more marital assets during divorce.
- Spousal misconduct – Suppose one spouse engaged in criminal activity that resulted in the reduction of marital assets. In such a case, a judge may order an unequal distribution of marital assets to compensate for the wrong.
- Difference in financial conditions of the parties – If the court determines that the spouse’s post-divorce financial resources will be different, it may order an unequal division of marital assets. In a case where there is a disparity in financial conditions, the spouse expected to be exposed to less financial resources will receive more.
- Disability – In a situation where one spouse has a permanent disability that prevents them from ever working and earning a living, the court will likely order an unequal distribution of marital property.
Contact Tampa Bay Legal Center for Legal Help
If you’re going through a Florida divorce and need the help of a qualified divorce attorney, contact Tampa Bay Legal Center. You can reach us at (813) 341-3333 or by completing our online contact form.