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How does Florida divide assets in a divorce?

The prospect of divorce brings up many questions, and one you likely have is what will happen to your assets. You may have friends who have lost or gained much in a divorce, and you wonder what will be the case for you.

Property division is complex, especially when you have numerous assets of high value, such as a business, vacation homes and investment accounts. Although Florida has rules governing the process, much of it depends on your personal circumstances. Becoming familiar with both factors can give you a sense of what to expect.

Equitable distribution

Florida follows equitable distribution. This means that the split may not be exactly equal but will be fair to both parties. In some cases, each spouse may get half or part of an asset (such as a pension plan), but more often, one spouse will have full ownership of one asset and the other spouse of another. Professional valuations are helpful in ensuring equitable distribution.

These rules only apply to marital property, things that you acquired or increased the value of during the marriage. Assets that were yours before the marriage, gifts and inheritances your spouse typically does not have claim to.

Relevant factors

How does the judge decide who gets what and how much? This is where your personal circumstances come in:

  • Did one of you make sacrifices for the education or career of the other?
  • How long did the marriage last?
  • Are you each able to support yourselves independently?
  • How much did you each contribute to raising the children?
  • Is there an asset you want sole retention of?
  • Do children still live at home?
  • Has one of you intentionally hidden or wasted assets?

The judge will consider the answers to these questions in the decision. However, you do not have to leave it up to the court. You and your spouse may choose to negotiate property division on your own through mediation.

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