When a person either files or is served with divorce papers, it can prove be one of the more emotional moments of their lives. Indeed, it's not uncommon for them to experience something of an emotional rollercoaster, feeling everything from sadness and anger to excitement and anxiety.
However, once this emotional turmoil subsides and the person starts to really think about the divorce process, chances are very good that they will have questions about how the law works and what they can expect moving forward. In fact, one area about which people have questions almost immediately is property division.
Specifically, people begin to wonder what will happen to the marital home or how their hard-earned assets will be divided. Similarly, they may wonder what happens to the debts that they and their soon-to-be former spouse incurred.
In recognition of this fact, today's post, the first in a series, will start examining how the property division process works here in the state of Florida.
Marital and nonmarital property
Any discussion of property division must be prefaced by an explanation of the difference between marital and nonmarital property. That's because only the former is subject to division upon divorce.
As you might surmise, nonmarital property includes any assets owned prior to the marriage from bank accounts and inheritance money to real estate and gifts. Indeed, even property that is purchased using separate funds during the course of the marriage is treated as such. For example, a sports car purchased with inheritance money while married is considered separate property.
Marital property, on the other hand, is simply any assets acquired during the course of the marriage. It's important to understand that where property is either purchased or maintained with commingled funds, it will typically be classified as marital property. Furthermore, in the sports car example above, there's a chance that if the vehicle owner uses commingled funds to maintain the car that it could lose its classification as separate property.
As for debts, the same rules essentially apply, meaning loans taken out in one person's name (student loans, etc.) will likely remain their own, while loans taken out as a couple (mortgage, joint credit card, etc.) will remain their shared responsibility.
We'll continue discussing this topic in a future post, examining how Florida is an "equitable distribution" state.
If you have questions or concerns relating to property division or other divorce-related issues, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.