While the dream of many Florida men and women may be to marry and live happily ever after, things don't always work out that way for one reason or another. Husbands and wives whose dreams of marriage have turned into the reality of divorce may have questions about what's going to happen now.
Financial concerns top the list of questions for many people, and it's no wonder. A person may have spent years and even decades accustomed to a particular financial arrangement, only to have it radically altered at the end of a marriage. Here are some important things to know about your Florida divorce and your money.
Will I lose half of everything if I go to court?
If a husband and wife are unable to come to an agreement via mediation or another form of alternative dispute resolution as to the division of their assets, it will be up to the courts to decide. Unfortunately, this is a common situation that many couples can't seem to avoid.
The state of Florida recognizes two kinds of assets: marital and non-marital. By and large, any asset (or debt) acquired or accumulated during the course of a marriage is considered marital. Typically, these include homes, cars, cash, stocks, and personal property, as well as mortgages, credit cards, and loans. Items such as gifts and inheritances intended for a specific party may be seen as exceptions. Anything either party owned prior to the marriage is viewed as non-marital.
In Florida, the judge will seek to achieve an "equitable distribution" of the marital assets only. In some cases, this means each party is awarded half of the assets and debts. However, if the court determines it to be fair to do so, an uneven distribution may be ordered. Factors considered when determining property division include:
- The duration of the marriage
- Spousal contributions to the marriage
- Each individual's economic situation
How much alimony will I pay?
Once the assets have been divided, the matter of alimony (often referred to as spousal support) may be handled. Either spouse may be awarded alimony, but there must be a demonstrated need for financial support. It is up to the spouse requesting support to prove both the need and the ability of the other party to pay.
The type of alimony, and the duration for which it lasts will depend on many factors, including the length of the marriage and the ability of the requesting spouse to become self-supporting in the future. Alimony may be awarded for the short-term, just to enable the recipient to get back on his or her feet.
On the other hand, after a long marriage has ended (typically after 17 or more years), if one spouse has largely been a homemaker, alimony may last indefinitely. The final dollar figure will depend largely on the income of the paying spouse, and the lifestyle to which the recipient is accustomed.
Knowledge is power during a divorce
Of course, there is much more to the story than is covered here. There is still child support and even tax considerations to take into account. A divorce, especially a contested one, can be a complicated financial undertaking. By having a knowledge of both your and your soon-to-be ex spouse's financial situations before proceeding into the divorce process, you could significantly increase your odds of achieving a more satisfying outcome.
The guidance and assistance from a skilled and experienced family law attorney can provide you with much-needed peace of mind during the challenges of your divorce. A lawyer who has worked with Florida divorce law for many years may be able to find solutions to problems you didn't even know you had, and help achieve a solid financial platform from which to being a new life.