Understanding Divorce In Florida: Common Questions And Clear Answers
How does property division work in Florida divorces?
When your divorce is complete, all property that now belongs to you and your spouse will be allocated to one or the other of you.
Important concepts to consider include:
- Separate property versus marital property
- Division of community property versus equitable division of assets
Separate property generally includes anything that you or your spouse owned before your marriage. If you kept those assets separate, they will likely remain the property of whoever owned them originally. However, if you have commingled separate property and marital property, division may be more complicated.
Marital property – that is, everything that was acquired during the marriage and is therefore owned jointly by both of you – will need to be divided or assigned to one of you. What does a fair division consist of? Florida is an equitable distribution property state, not a community property state. This means that a family law court will expect to see a fair but not necessarily equal division of assets acquired during the marriage.
Spousal maintenance in Florida is determined on a case-by-case basis and may be:
- Rehabilitative (lasting just long enough for the receiving spouse to get back on her or his feet)
- Durational (lasting for a specified length of time)
- Permanent (lasting for a lifetime or perhaps until retirement assets become available)
Nonetheless, there is no set formula that applies, as in the case of child support. Also, support amounts may be modified later if the receiving party remarries or if one or both ex-spouses have significant changes in circumstances.
Note that alimony (spousal support) has been a contentious issue in Florida for some time, with significant legislative proposals on record about ending so-called “permanent alimony.” These proposals have not become law. However, there is no guarantee that a family law court will award alimony of any amount or for any length of time. A skilled family law attorney is an important advocate for anyone going through divorce.
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Florida courts require a parenting plan that spells out how parents will divide the following:
- Day-to-day care responsibilities
- Time spent with a child (time sharing)
- Decision-making for health care, education and activities
The parenting plan should also specify how parents will communicate. If parents arrive at an acceptable agreement, the court will likely approve of it. If not, the court will decide. Time sharing may not be 50-50 but should take into account weekly schedules during school time; weekends; holidays and school breaks; and overnights with each parent. Enforcement or modifications may be necessary after a parenting plan is in effect.
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