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In 1988, Florida’s legislature enacted Florida Statutes Section 61.075, the equitable distribution statute. This law gave Florida courts the authority to distribute marital property in divorce or dissolution of marriage cases.
Under the law, the court will set apart each spouse’s nonmarital assets and liabilities, and will then distribute the marital assets/liabilities among the parties. Generally, the court begins with the premise that the distribution will be equal, unless there is a justification for unequal distribution.
It is important to note that under Florida divorce law, the parties have a right to equitable distribution of assets. Equitable does not necessarily mean equal. A family law court will distribute marital assets/liabilities as fairly as possible, considering a whole host of factors, including:
- a spouse’s contributions to the marriage (i.e., care/education of children, homemaker, etc.)
- the economic circumstances of the spouses,
- the length of the marriage,
- interruption in personal career of either spouse,
- a given spouse’s desire to retain a specific asset, including the marital home,
- each spouse’s contributions to household income and contribution to debt,
- intentional waste, depletion or destruction of marital assets, going as far back as 2 years prior to the filing of the petition for divorce.
How Does the Court Make Distributions?
Equitable distribution is the first order of business in a divorce case in Florida. First, the court must classify all the assets and liabilities owned by the parties, whether individually or jointly, as marital or nonmarital. After making this classification, the court will distribute all nonmarital assets/liabilities to each respective spouse. Then, the marital assets/liabilities will be distributed in accordance with the various factors outlined above. When distributing marital assets/liabilities in a divorce case, the court is required to make findings of fact. If the parties can agree to a division of assets and liabilities, the court is likely to accept the agreement, so long as it is reasonable. If the parties cannot agree, the court will distribute marital assets/liabilities at trial.
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The Help You Need Filing for Divorce in Orange, Osceola Counties and all of Central Florida
If you would like more information about obtaining a divorce in these counties, please contact Attorney Steen J. Brown at 407-344-3400.