When a marriage ends, the aftermath is emotional as well as financial. If the parties cannot agree on the distribution of assets and debts, the court decides the issue based on equitable distribution. In this process, each party keeps their own separate property and the court divides marital property equitably.
Under the legal theory of equitable distribution, a judge divides marital property in a fair and equitable manner. However, this does not mean that assets are split 50/50. Rather, there is a statutory list of factors that a judge may consider when determining equitability. A judge will look at:
- The length of the marriage
- The financial situation of both parties
- The contribution of one party to the other’s career or education
- Any factor necessary for justice and equity
Generally, marital property is the combination of assets and debts acquired by either spouse during the span of the marriage. There are also ways for separate property to transform into marital property. For example, any increase in value of separate property during the span of the marriage is deemed marital property. Some of the most common types of martial property are:
- Motor vehicles
- Real estate
- Pensions and 401k plans
Separate property (or nonmarital property) is not factored into the equitable distribution of marital property. Separate party includes:
- Property acquired prior to the commencement of the marriage
- Inheritance assets received within the span of the marriage
- Gifts received within the span of the marriage, except if the gift was purchased by the other spouse
- Property specifically categorized as separate property in a valid prenuptial agreement
If you’re heading towards divorce, you need a dedicated attorney to help defend your financial future. Contact an Orlando divorce attorney with experience and integrity today.