In this one case, it is important to note that Florida is NOT considered a community property state when it comes to a division of marital assets.   There is no presumption of an automatic 50/50 split of property in a divorce.  Florida is what is called an equitable property state.

We’ve already covered four different topics concerning the division of property in a divorce, and here’s yet another. Why so many? Because the division of property in a dissolution of marriage is one of the most complex issues with which the courts have to contend. In addition to the other factors that have already been discussed, the division of property may also be affected greatly depending upon the state or territory in which you live.

This is one of those “good-news-bad-news” situations: the good news is that there are only two basic ways in which the division of property is determined, either community property or equitable distribution.  Under community property laws, both spouses own an equal share of income and assets and that property is divided evenly. Community property also allows individuals to keep property separately. The bad news? Not all states use community property to determine the division of property. Some states use the alternate method of equitable distribution, which is a bit more complex, taking additional factors into consideration when determining the division of income and assets.

As of this writing – and please bear in mind that this can change – if you live in any of the following states you are subject to community property laws in a divorce:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico also employs community property when considering the division of assets; all other states use equitable distribution. So have the laws changed in your state? Even if they haven’t, how do the laws involving the division of property in your state of residence affect your case in particular? This is where a legal professional is needed – sorting all this out then becomes their responsibility, not yours.

As always, every situation is unique.  This series is intended to “start the thinking process” to take emotive choices out of a hard situation.  Everyone’s situation is different, and this is not intended as legal advice.  Please, speak to a divorce attorney prior to making any decisions, especially decisions based on a simple blog post.   There are many mitigating factors that will go into the final divorce decree.

According to Florida Statute Chapter 61,

In an equitable property state, Marital property includes such things as, by way of example, assets acquired jointly by the spouses during the marriage, the enhancement of the value of a non-marital asset during the marriage due to the efforts of the other spouse, jointly titled personal property, a home titled as tenants by the entirety, a gift during the marriage from one spouse to another, and a joint bank account.

As always, every situation is unique.  This series is intended to “start the thinking process” to take emotive choices out of a hard situation.  Everyone’s situation is different, and this is not intended as legal advice.  Please, speak to a divorce attorney prior to making any decisions.

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