Equitable Distribution

In every dissolution of marriage action in the state of Florida, the court is required to equitably distribute the marital assets and liabilities between the parties. When making this distribution, the court will generally start with the premise that the distribution, of both the assets and the liabilities, shall be equal.

At the office of Alan Robert Burton, Attorney at Law, I bring over 35 years of experience as a Boca Raton divorce lawyer to men and women throughout South Florida. To set up a free initial consultation to discuss your property division needs, contact my offices in Boca Raton or Fort Lauderdale or call me at 954-229-1660 (my cell at 954-295-9222).

Factors That Must Be Considered When Dividing Property in a Florida Divorce Action

If the court intends on making a distribution, that is going to be anything other than equal, the court must consider relevant statutory factors, all of which are set forth in Florida statute 61.075.

The relevant factors that the court will consider include the following:

  • The contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as a homemaker
  • The economic circumstances of the parties
  • The duration of the marriage
  • Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party
  • The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunities of the other spouse
  • The desirability of retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, corporation, or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party
  • The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the non-marital assets of the parties
  • The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent child of the marriage, or any other party, when it would be equitable to do so, it is in the best interests of the child or that party, and it is financially feasible for the parties to maintain the residence until the child is emancipated or until exclusive possession is otherwise terminated by the court of competent jurisdiction. In making this determination, the court should first determine if it would be in the best interests of the dependent child to remain in the marital home, and, if not, whether or not other equities would be served by giving any other party exclusive use and possession of the marital home.
  • Intentional dissipation, waste, depletion or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition or within two years prior to the filing of the petition
  • Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

Although the concept of equitable distribution seems rather straightforward, it can become rather complicated and technical, depending on the particular asset is involved.

What Are Considered Marital Assets and Liabilities?

The cutoff date that the court generally uses to determine marital assets and liabilities is usually the date that one party files a petition for dissolution of marriage. However, this is not the only date that is used by the courts. If the parties entered into a separation agreement, and specified the date for determining assets and liabilities in the agreement, then that date would be the governing date, as opposed to the date of filing the divorce petition.

What exactly are marital assets and marital liabilities? Florida statute 61.075 also defines marital assets and liabilities.

Under the statute, marital assets and liabilities include the following:

  • Assets acquired and liabilities incurred during the marriage, individually by either spouse or jointly.
  • The enhancement in value and appreciation of non-marital assets resulting either from the efforts of either party during the marriage or from the contribution to or expenditure thereon of marital funds or other forms of marital assets, or both.
  • Interspousal gifts during the marriage.
  • All vested and non-vested benefits, rights, and funds accrued during the marriage in retirement, pension, profit sharing, annuity, deferred compensation, and insurance plans and programs.
  • All real property held by the parties as tenants by the entireties is presumed to be a marital asset.
  • All personal property titled jointly by the parties as tenants by the entireties is presumed to be a marital asset.
  • Non-marital assets and liabilities include the following:
  • Assets acquired and liabilities incurred by either party prior to the marriage, and assets acquired and liabilities incurred in exchange for such assets and liabilities.
  • Assets acquired separately by either party by non-interspousal gift, bequest, devise or descent, and assets acquired in exchange for such assets.
  • All income derived from non-marital assets during the marriage unless the income was treated, used or relied upon by the parties as a marital asset.
  • Assets and liabilities excluded from marital assets and liabilities by a valid written agreement of the parties, and assets acquired and liabilities incurred in exchange for such assets and liabilities

Forgery or signing a spouse's signature to a document without his or her authorization is a fairly common occurrence during a marriage. Any liability that may accrue as a result of a forgery or unauthorized signing shall be considered a non-marital liability as to the person who committed the forgery. In other words, when a spouse signs the other's name without his or her authorization, the signing spouse becomes solely liable for the obligation.

You should be sure to obtain competent representation in your divorce so that all of your marital assets can be properly identified, valued and protected. I can help you properly identify, valuate and divide all types of marital property and debts as part of my comprehensive divorce representation. I also offer detailed assistance when it comes to all types of property division issues that may arise during or after your dissolution.

Contact Alan Robert Burton, Attorney at Law, Serving Palm Beach County and All of South Florida

Call or email my office to schedule your free initial consultation. Call 954-229-1660 or my cell at 954-295-9222. I maintain flexible office hours to accommodate your schedule and to discuss your family law issues.