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If a couple is able to agree on how to divide a portion of their estate, but not the entire estate, the court will step in to distribute the undivided portion. Equitable distribution applies only to marital property. Marital property is all property acquired during the marriage. Marital property does not include, however, property obtained during marriage by gift, bequest, devise or descent, or property otherwise provided for in a written agreement.
Such property, along with any assets acquired before or after marriage, is considered the separate property of the acquiring spouse. While gifts given to one spouse by a third party are considered that spouse's separate property, gifts given by one spouse to another spouse are considered marital property subject to the laws of equitable distribution. Not necessarily. While a court may consider title as evidence of separate property, title in and of itself does not determine whether an asset is separate or marital property.
An equitable division of marital property is not always an equal division. Rather, the court will divide property between spouses in a way that it considers fair. In other cases, however, the judge may decide to award one spouse a greater percentage of the marital property. A court will review a number of factors in determining how to divide marital property. For example, a court may consider:. A court typically will not consider adultery, alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence , or involvement in other criminal activities when making an equitable distribution of marital property.
A spouse's behavior will be relevant, however, if it impacts the couple's finances. Thus, a spouse who is caught hiding or fraudulently transferring marital assets may be awarded a smaller percentage of the couple's estate. Marital property is typically valued by its fair market value at the time the marital litigation is filed or commenced. However, because a period of months or years may elapse before a divorce decree becomes final, some states allow the parties to share in the appreciation or depreciation of marital assets between the date of separation and the date of divorce.
Last updated September Divorce Contents. For example, a court may consider: The financial condition and earning power of each spouse. The value of each spouse's separate property, including a spouse's business , business interests, retirement plans, k plans, stocks, bonds, etc. The degree to which each spouse contributed to the acquisition of marital property.
The degree to which each spouse contributed to the education and earning power of the other spouse. Future financial needs and liabilities of each spouse. The ages and overall health of each spouse. The liquidity of marital property. Premarital and prenuptial agreements. Mediation is a procedure to assist you and your spouse in working out an arrangement for reaching an agreement without a protracted process or a trial. Its purpose is not to save a marriage but to help divorcing spouses reach a solution and arrive at agreeable terms for handling the break-up of the marriage.
Many counties have public or court-connected mediation services available.
Some spouses agree on some or all of the issues before or after the petition is filed. Parties who have reached an understanding as to their desired outcome s enter into a written agreement that is signed by both parties and then presented to the court. Parties who do not yet have a written agreement but have reached an understanding also may appear for a final hearing with a suggested settlement that they ask the court to accept and incorporate into a final judgment. In such uncontested cases, a dissolution of marriage can become final in a short amount of time.
Reaching an agreement empowers parties to create terms with which they are more likely to comply rather than leaving decisions up to a judge. Each party will present evidence and testimony to the judge during the final hearing, and then the judge makes the final decision on the contested issues. Certain couples are eligible to dissolve their marriage by way of a simplified procedure. This type of dissolution was designed so the services of an attorney might not be necessary.
Spouses are responsible, however, for filing all necessary documents correctly, and both parties are required to appear before a judge together when the final dissolution is granted. You can retain an attorney to represent you even in an uncontested matter. The cost for such services is generally much less than in a contested case.
Fault Divorce Effect on Property Division and Spousal Support
Not everyone can use the simplified procedure. Couples can use the simplified dissolution of marriage only if all the following requirements are met:. If you and your spouse cannot meet all of the above requirements, you will have to follow the procedure of the regular dissolution of marriage process. There are substantial differences between a simplified and a regular dissolution of marriage. In a regular dissolution, each spouse has the right to examine and cross-examine the other as a witness. With a simplified dissolution, financial information may be requested by either party, but disclosing financial information is not required.
It is the public policy of Florida to ensure that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated or the marriage is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of child-rearing.
In most cases, parental responsibility for a minor child will be shared by both parents so that each retains full parental rights and responsibilities with respect to their child. Shared parenting requires both parents to confer so that major decisions affecting the welfare of the child will be determined jointly.
The court will determine any or all of these matters if the parties cannot agree.
Florida Divorce Basics | DivorceNet
In very rare cases, the court can order sole parental responsibility to one parent. To do so, the court must determine that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child. In determining parental responsibility, the court will approve or devise its own Parenting Plan, which includes responsibility for the daily tasks of child-rearing, the time-sharing schedule, and decision-making authority relating to health care, school and related activities.
The plan also will specify any technology that will be used for parent-child communication. The parents may agree on a Parenting Plan and submit it to the court for approval, or the court will determine these issues. The statute includes a list of factors for the court to consider in making these decisions. Florida law requires both parties to attend a parenting course before entering a final dissolution of marriage.
Some courts require children of parents going through dissolution of marriage to attend a class specifically designed for them.
How Much Does Divorce Cost in Florida?
One of the most difficult and complex areas of dissolution of marriage is the division of assets and debts. Assets may include cars, houses, retirement benefits pensions and k plans , business interests, cash, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, personal property and other things of value. There are two types of assets and debts in Florida — nonmarital and marital.
Generally, any asset or debt acquired during the marriage is considered marital and subject to distribution. The parties also may have assets or debts that are considered nonmarital and should be awarded to only one party. Although the court must begin with the presumption that all marital assets and debts are to be divided equally 50 percent each between the parties, the court may distribute the marital estate fairly or equitably not necessarily equally between the parties, regardless of how title is held.
A court decides equitable distribution before considering alimony.
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- Equitable Distribution Frequently Asked Questions.
Equitable distribution is based on a long list of factors the court is required to consider. Factors to be considered by the court include the contribution of each spouse to the marriage; the duration of the marriage; and the economic circumstances of each spouse. The court should approve your agreement if the court finds it to be reasonable.
If you and your spouse cannot agree, the court will divide the assets and debts during trial. After equitable distribution, the court may consider an alimony award. The court may grant alimony to either spouse. For the court to award alimony, the requesting spouse must demonstrate a need for alimony and the ability of the other party to pay. Once the requesting spouse has established a need and an ability to pay, the court must determine all relevant factors to determine the property type and amount of alimony to award.
For purposes of determining alimony, there is a rebuttable presumption that a short-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of less than 7 years, a moderate-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of greater than 7 years but less than 17 years, and a long-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of 17 years or greater. The length of a marriage is the period of time from the date of marriage until the date of filing of an action for dissolution of marriage.
Bridge-the-gap alimony may be awarded to help a spouse make a transition from being married to being single. Bridge-the-gap alimony is designed to assist a spouse with legitimate, identifiable short-term needs. There are limits as to the length and conditions of a bridge-the-gap alimony award. Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to assist a spouse in establishing the capacity for self-support through either the redevelopment of previous skills or credentials, or the acquisition of education, training or work experience necessary to develop appropriate employment skills or credentials.
In Florida, no one has to have done anything wrong in order to file for divorce.