How to Protect Your Assets During a Florida Divorce
American men and women are waiting longer to get married, for different reasons according to studies. Consequently, the likelihood of couples entering into nuptials with assets is higher than ever because financial stability often comes before the walk down the aisle. It is not uncommon for partners to want to protect their personal assets during a divorce whether they are accumulated prior to, or during, the marriage.
Marital v. Nonmarital Property
Under Florida law, courts are generally required to equitably distribute marital assets during a divorce proceeding. Here, “equitable” does not mean 50/50, however.
In order for the court to properly distribute assets, it first needs to ascertain what assets are marital and what are nonmarital. This is important because marital property, unlike nonmarital property, is divided by the court during a divorce proceeding. Marital property includes: assets acquired during the marriage; any appreciation, or enhancement in value, of nonmarital assets that occurred during the marriage; interspousal gifts given during the marriage; real and personal property held as “tenants by the entireties”; and certain retirement benefits.
Commingling of property can turn a nonmarital asset into a marital asset. In these situations, the court may have to step in and determine what, if any, of the assets are marital. In addition to assets, liabilities are subject to equitable distribution and are separated into marital and nonmarital liabilities.
Steps to Take to Protect Yourself
While divorce is difficult, there are some steps you can take to protect your assets during this stressful time. For instance, you can:
- Take an inventory of all your valuables;
- Acquire property from your home which you rightfully own;
- Know and understand the ownership status of all property;
- Hire an appraiser to value all property;
- Photograph all joint property and keep what you do not want to replace;
- Make copies of all important documents relating to your marriage;
- Make sure your business billing practices remain transparent post-divorce;
- Know that you can rightfully obtain business documents, if needed; and
- Obtain proof for items that were either gifts or inherited.
Of course, having a knowledgeable attorney put together a pre- or postnuptial agreement can help iron out these issues – if properly drafted. These are legal contracts entered into by the parties prior to marriage or during marriage that contemplates divorce. As an added bonus, these documents may be able to streamline the divorce process within Florida which results in time and money saved by all parties.
Orlando Divorce Attorney
Whether you or someone you know is working through a divorce, is considering divorce, or has questions about protecting assets before or after marriage a seasoned Orlando divorce attorney can help unravel and navigate this complicated area of the law for you. Call the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A. for your initial case evaluation at (407) 521-7171. Our legal professionals serve the greater Orlando area and have been providing legal assistance to families for decades.