Equitable Distribution


West Palm Beach Divorce Attorney

Equitable Distribution Of Assets And Liabilities

Florida law has established the principle of the equitable distribution of marital assets and marital liabilities in a divorce case. The law requires the court to presume that the distribution of assets and liabilities to the parties must be equal. Florida recognizes the concept that a marriage is a partnership. The court considers both parties' contributions to and participation in the marriage; inside or outside of the home, and the court must ensure that neither spouse passes automatically from misfortune to prosperity, or from prosperity to misfortune. West Palm Beach equitable distribution attorney, Stephen J. Press while in member of the Florida legislature sponsored the bill that enacted the equitable distribution law in Florida which is now a core concept of Florida divorce law.

Equitable Distribution Procedure

The first task that a court has in making a suitable distribution is to classify marital and non marital assets and marital and non marital liabilities. Marital assets and liabilities are defined by Florida Statute as all assets acquired and liabilities incurred during the marriage, individually by either spouse or jointly by them. Spouses often incorrectly believe that if a asset is in their name or they earned the money used to acquire the asset that the asset is nonmarital. Those assets are, however, still marital assets. The law was enacted to prevent the inequities that used to occur in marriages where one spouse was the breadwinner and all assets were often put strictly in the breadwinner's name.

All assets acquired and liabilities incurred by either spouse subsequent to the date of the marriage are presumed to be marital assets and liabilities. Non marital assets and liabilities are defined by Florida Statute as those assets acquired and liabilities incurred by either party prior to the marriage, and assets acquired and liabilities incurred in exchange for such assets and liabilities. Also, assets acquired by either party through inheritance, gift or interspousal gift are non marital. Because the definitions used in defining marital and non marital assets and marital and non-marital debts are complex. It is important that you are represented by a knowledgeable and experienced divorce and family law attorney. The law offices of West Palm Beach equitable distribution attorney, Stephen J. Press will utilize its extensive experience to ensure that each client receives their proper share of equitable distribution.

Assets and liabilities acquired after separation are non marital. However marital assets existing at the time of separation remain marital assets. If an asset is acquired or a debt incurred after the date of filing the dissolution of marriage action, it is generally distributed as a non marital asset or liability. However, sometimes a party might incur an expense after the case is filed independently and without the knowledge of the other party. If the debt or expense was occurred for marital purpose or support during separation a court may consider it to be marital. Marital assets include the enhancement in value and appreciation of non marital assets resulting from the efforts of either party during the marriage or from the contribution of marital funds or other forms of marital assets.

Retirement Pensions

Many clients do not realize that retirement pensions and 401(k)s are subject to equitable distribution. All retirement pension, profit–sharing, annuity, deferred compensation, and insurance plans and programs are marital assets subject to equitable distribution. The court must determine what portion of the retirement plan occurred during the marriage. This portion is marital property. All retirement and pension benefits accrued prior to the marriage are non marital and not susceptible to equitable distribution. Retirement pensions are usually distributed by the court by use of a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). These orders are highly technical and are often drafted by experts in the field.

Please call the law offices of West Palm Beach divorce attorney, Stephen J. Press, at 561-833-2772 for a free consultation or contact us online.