Marriage and Personal Property Know Your Rights
When getting a divorce or dissolution of marriage, your mind is flooded. Every spare moment you have is consumed with thoughts of what the future will hold. How will the kids react? Where will I live? How will I handle this emotionally? For some, going through a divorce is one of the most difficult things a person will ever endure. One frequently asked question is, “how will my spouse and I divide all of our personal possessions?” You worked your entire marriage to better your family, and product of much of your hard work is obtaining property such as furniture, vehicles, boats, recreational equipment, and family heirlooms.
Florida law requires that under divorce proceedings, division of property between spouses must be “fair or equitable,” which a determination is made by the Court. This does not always mean “equal;” the specifics depends on the circumstances of the particular situation. In some cases, a couple may be able to make agreements on their own about the division of property, where others might need the assistance of a judge. The rule regarding fair and equitable distribution is only applicable to marital assets or property acquired during the course of the marriage. However, many couples still need help determining exactly which assets are marital and which assets are non-marital.
Property acquired by one spouse prior to the marriage is generally considered non-marital and is still the property of that individual. Although, there are some exceptions, for example, if one spouse purchase a car prior to a marriage but later added their spouse to the title, the vehicle is then considered a marital asset. This is where the waters get murky, and you may need assistance of an attorney to determine what to ask for.What If My Spouse and I Cannot Agree?
In a dissolution action where an agreement has not been entered and filed, the division of property is based on findings of fact. In this case, it is important to provide factual support for claims of non-marital assets and ownership interests. Consider your factual basis for concluding what belongs to whom early in the dissolution process.Do We Have to Wait Until Our Divorce is Final to Divide Our Property?
If there are extenuating circumstances warranting partial distribution of property pending final decision in a divorce, the Court may make an interim determination of marital and non-marital assets and distribute the property among the spouses. This can only be accomplished if it can be demonstrated that there is good reason not to wait until the dissolution is final.
Where the spouses can reach an agreement regarding personal property, they may enter and file it with the Court and can exchange personal property accordingly. But probably more often than not, the couple will not be able to make all of these determinations on their own and will need the help of an attorney and the Court. In this case, it is possible to obtain an interim order and have a partial distribution of property before the divorce is final if there is good cause and a factual basis. Before making any decisions, seek the advice of an attorney practicing in family law in the county where you live. Thompson Law, P.A. offers free consultations for all Family Law.