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Uncontested Florida Divorce - The Division of Property
In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse will reach an amicable settlement agreement as to central issues regarding your divorce, including property division, maintenance, and a parenting plan. An uncontested divorce puts you in charge of making critical decisions concerning how your marriage ends. You decide what is fair and reasonable. It is important in attempting to negotiate a settlement agreement with your spouse that you have a full understanding as to your rights. Knowledge of what assets you may be entitled to is critical to creation of a sensible and evenhanded settlement agreement.
While your experienced uncontested divorce attorney will be of the greatest assistance in protecting your legal rights, the following description of property division during a Florida divorce can give you an initial starting point.
Florida’s Law of Equitable Division
Under Florida law, marital assets will be divided in an equitable or fair manner. This usually means equally, but if a judge believes equal distribution will not be fair, the property can be divided in a different proportion considering all relevant factors. Some things a court will look to include:
In an uncontested divorce, you are not bound by the laws of equitable division or a judge’s ruling. You can draft the settlement as you and your spouse see fit. However, understanding how your assets would be divided in court will help you in negotiating a settlement that is agreeable to you and your spouse, and fair to both parties.
Marital and Non-marital (Separate) Property
Only marital assets, as well as debts, will be divided when a couple divorces. To determine what property you may be entitled to in a divorce, you must first gain a full understanding of what property is considered separate, or yours alone already, and what is marital.
Simply put, any assets you had when you entered into the marriage remain your separate property during the marriage and will not be divided during a Florida uncontested divorce. Your separate property would thus include the house you owned before your wedding day, the money in your account, your clothes, your vehicle, and the like. Separate property also includes any assets or debts that a spouse defined in a valid prenuptial agreement as separate property. Additionally, separate property will include income from separate property or items purchased with separate property.
A spouse can convert separate property to marital property in several ways. First, if marital funds are contributed to increase the value of separate property, the increase in value will be marital property. Further, a spouse can change separate assets to marital if they change the title from individual to joint ownership, which will be viewed as a gift.
Assessing and Dividing Property
After you understand what property is marital, you can begin the process of division. It can be helpful to first assign a monetary value to each item. You can then divide assets by assigning certain items to each of you. This process will be unique to each couple, with some couples electing to create an even split while others focus on holding onto those assets that mean the most to them.
A spouse who does not make timely support payments can have his or her wages garnished through the Florida Child Support Enforcement Department. The court orders that alimony be automatically taken from the paying spouse's paycheck. The court can also order that the paying spouse give the alimony payments to the Support Enforcement Department, which will give the money to the receiving spouse. The department acts as a third party which manages the collection and distribution of support payments on a statewide basis. If the paying spouse of child support or alimony fails to make timely and sufficient payments, the court can suspend the paying spouse's driver's license.
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