Division of Assets and Liabilities


In a Florida divorce case the court is guided by the equitable distribution law when deciding how to distribute the assets and liabilities of the parties. The court must presume that the division should be equal un less there is justification for an unequal distribution. In making its decision, Florida courts recognize a marital partnership concept. The court must consider both parties contribution to the marriage and must ensure that neither spouse passes automatically from misfortune to prosperity or from prosperity to misfortune.

Nonmarital Assets And Liabilities

Before the court divides in distributes rental assets and liabilities. It must classify nonmarital assets and liabilities and set them aside to the party as his or her separate property. Any income derived from non-marital assets during the marriage remains nonmarital it less the parties treated, used, or relied upon the income as a marital asset. Exclusive use and possession of nonmarital property may be ordered by the court as part of the child support award. Assets and liabilities acquired after separation are nonmarital.

Identification, Valuation and Distribution of Marital PropertyIdentification and Valuation

Florida law defines marital assets and liabilities to include all assets and liabilities occurred during the marriage individually by either spouse or jointly by them. Therefore, in order to identify marital assets, the court must determine where the asset was acquired. If an asset was acquired or a debt incurred after the date of filing, it is generally distributed as a nonmarital asset or liability. Marital assets and liabilities include the enhancement in value and appreciation of nonmarital assets resulting from the efforts of either party during the marriage or from the contribution to or expenditure of marital funds or other forms of marital assets, or both. The date for determine the value of an asset with the amount of the liability identified or classified as marital is whatever date the judge determines is just and equitable under the circumstances. Different assets may be valued as of different dates, according to the judge's discretion as the circumstances require.

Unequal Distribution May Be Allowed

The court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is justification for an unequal distribution based on the contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as homemaker. According to appellate court decisions contribution to the marriage means a showing of extraordinary services over and above normal marital duties. Other factors that the court can consider include, duration of marriage, interruption of personal careers, contribution to other spouse is clear, desirability of retaining particular assets and contributions to income and assets.

Interim Partial Equitable Distribution

Effective July 1, 2008 Florida law was amended to permit an interim partial equitable distribution. Either party may file a sworn motion after the divorce is filed seeking an interim partial equitable distribution before the final distribution of marital and nonmarital assets and marital and nonmarital liabilities. In order to prevail on the motion the moving party must show "good cause" why the matter should not be deferred until the final hearing. "Good cause" is defined as "extraordinary circumstances" that require an interim partial distribution.

Contact a West Palm Beach Divorce and Family Law Attorney

The Law Offices of West Palm Beach divorce and family law attorney, Stephen J. Press is dedicated to protecting your rights with professional excellence. Please contact us at 561-833-2772 or contact us online for a free consultation.