An important step in every divorce is a fair division of marital property. To learn more about your rights to marital property, contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale division of property attorney today.
A primary concern in most divorces is how to split up the assets of the married couple. Single-income households remain common, and many dual-income households have significant disparities between spouses in income. Family businesses, supporting the other spouse financially while he or she pursues education and other endeavors, inheritance, and gifts to the couple can all complicate the picture. Achieving an exact division of assets is not always possible, but the law works to attain a fair division of marital assets.
One fundamental rule of property division is that what a spouse brings into the marriage, the spouse keeps. For example, family keepsakes, valuable artwork or vehicles, or securities and other monetary assets that one spouse already possesses at the time of marriage will, on divorce, be considered that spouse’s personal property. In addition, gifts and inheritance explicitly made to one spouse during the marriage will remain that spouse’s personal property. You do not need to worry about your spouse claiming an antique family heirloom that was given to you by your favorite aunt – it is yours. If separate assets are mingled with marital assets, or if one spouse does perform significant work on personal assets during the marriage – for example, spending substantial time researching and actively trading personal securities – then some portion of the separate assets may be treated as marital property.
Property that is not considered personal is marital property. This is property that the married couple has accumulated during the course of the marriage. During a short marriage, determining what constitutes marital property, and dividing it fairly, may be relatively simple. In a longer marriage, the task can be very complicated.
The process of dividing marital property is called equitable distribution. This process starts with the premise that marital property should be divided in half. However, this does not mean that a simple 50/50 split will be the result. Division of a house, accumulated pension, 401(k), or other retirement benefits, or an ongoing family business is difficult to do with precision, and the spouse who keeps any of these assets in essence has to buy out the other spouse’s share. Courts may also order unequal distributions of property where one spouse is disabled or cares for a disabled child, or where one spouse has not worked for a long period and has little earning potential. Alimony and child support can also impact property division.
Equitable distribution should ideally be achieved by agreement between the spouses. Otherwise, equitable distribution is done by the court. Due to recent changes in the law, in some circumstances a spouse may now seek partial equitable distribution, which essentially enables the spouse to obtain some marital assets prior to final distribution.
Division of marital property is complicated, and many people have rights to marital property that they do not realize. The guidance of a Broward County property division lawyer can make a tremendous difference. Serena Carroll has helped many individuals through the divorce process and helped them obtain their full rights to all marital property. We may employ forensic investigators and other experts to discover all assets and ensure a fair division. To consult with the Law Office of Serena Carroll today, call us at (954) 525-2050.