Married spouses typically combine their homes and their lives as completely as they can. They share everything, from the bed where they sleep to their meals. They likely commingle their finances by using one checking account and even plan their retirement around shared savings and the realities of one household.
As a result of this merged existence, many years of shared income and assets, as well as marital debt, can make the end of a marriage quite challenging. The divorce process requires a property settlement, which typically means that spouses divide all of their assets and debts. If a couple does not come to an agreement before judicial intervention becomes necessary, there are specific rules that are applied in the event of a litigated property division scenario in Florida.
Court-based division should be equitable
In divorce litigation, couples provide details about their assets and marital relationship to a family law judge. That judge then uses what they know about the situation and their understanding of the Florida equitable distributions statute to divide their property. The goal is a fair way to split both their financial obligations and personal resources.
Judges have the authority to award property to one spouse. They can order people to sell marital assets. They can also decree that one spouse is responsible for specific debts. Almost any resources or debts accumulated during the marriage will be subject to division. The spouses typically will have no control over what terms the judge decides to impose.
Couples who agree can set their own terms
A divorce settlement doesn’t need to be the result of a judge’s observations. Many divorcing couples keep control over the process either by collaborating with one another, possibly by having their lawyers negotiate directly, or by attending mediation sessions.
Those who reach an agreement can potentially divide their property and financial obligations in any way that both spouses agree is fair. Under these circumstances, a judge’s role would merely be to review and officialize the divorce rather than to set the terms for how the spouses split their assets. Either way, seeking legal guidance and better understanding what happens during the property division process may benefit those who are contemplating filing for divorce in the Sunshine State.