The Florida statutes provide that the marital assets and liabilities will be “equitably distributed” between husband and wife. This remedy is in addition to all other remedies available to the court such as alimony and child support. The specific statute is F.S. 61.075.
This statute applies regardless of the size of the marital estate and involves a 4 step process:
- Identify all assets and liabilities.
- Classify which assets and liabilities are marital or non-marital.
- Valuation of the asset or liability.
- Distribution of the asset or liability.
Note: There is a presumption that marital assets and liabilities should be distributed equally unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution. Note also that there is a presumption that all assets and liabilities acquired subsequent to the date of the marriage are marital assets or liabilities unless clearly established otherwise. The statute provides the criteria for a court to use in determining whether the distribution should be equal. These factors are similar to the factors for determining alimony and include such things as the duration of the marriage, the economic circumstances of the parties and the contribution of each to the marriage, just to name a few. See the statute for a full listing. The statute also contains a definition of marital and non-marital assets. The court may order an interim partial distribution during the pendency of the litigation if the circumstances of the case warrant it.
None of these 4 steps are simple questions. There have been volumes of litigation on each of these steps. These issues must be decided on a case by case basis.
This article is for general reference only, and it is not intended to be a substitute for the hiring of an attorney. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities regarding your particular case.