Dividing property can be one of the most contentious aspects of a divorce -- particularly if you don't have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place. It's always best when couples are able to agree on their own, with the help of their attorneys, how to split their assets, or what's known as the "marital estate." That's the property and other assets that a couple acquired during their marriage.
However, if they can't reach an agreement on how to split their assets, a judge will make that determination based on Florida law. Florida is what's known as an "equitable distribution" state. It's essential to remember that "equitable" isn't necessarily the same thing as equal. If a judge is making the decision, they'll consider a number of factors when determining how the marital estate is divided. These may include:
- Did the spouse who has been earning less money contribute to the marital estate by being a stay-at-home parent?
- Will one spouse have a more difficult time supporting themselves financially because they haven't been in the workplace or didn't get an advanced degree because they've been raising the kids or otherwise contributing to the marriage and family?
As noted, a prenup or postnup can detail how assets will be divided in a divorce. These documents can help protect the spouse who has given up a career or educational opportunities to care for the home and family. They can also be used to help ensure that the person whose hard work, talent and ingenuity have resulted in considerable wealth leaves the marriage with the bulk of it. Of course, couples have to work out an agreement that each feels is fair to them.
Whether you have a prenup or postnup in place, if you're the spouse who has been bringing in less money during the marriage and perhaps not handling the family finances, it's essential to make sure that your husband or wife isn't hiding any assets or actively working to deplete them so that you get less. Your attorney can help you work to seek a property division agreement that is fair.