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What counts as marital property in a Florida divorce

If you are facing a divorce in Florida, asset division is among the many important issues you need to handle. Generally, the rule is that the spouses keep their respective separate assets and divide marital assets in an equitable way. 

Figuring out which assets are marital can present some complicated questions, especially when those assets are high-value or complex. In some cases, a spouse may attempt to conceal income or property to avoid division. Courts tend to penalize this type of conduct quite heavily.

Marital assets

As a rule, assets either spouse acquires during the marriage counts as a marital asset. This holds true even if one spouse purchases the asset with his or her income. Whose name appears on the title also makes no difference. Likewise, real property spouses own as tenants by the entirety holds the presumption of being a marital asset.

Portions of either spouse's retirement plan can also be marital property, and thus, subject to division. Specifically, the marital portion would consist of the benefits that accrue during the marriage. To divide a retirement account, your lawyer will need to file a Qualified Domestic Relations Order.

Separate assets

Assets a spouse acquires before marriage are generally deemed separate. However, if the other spouse contributes to its growth in value, such as a spouse who helps run a business, a court may order the division of the amount by which the asset increased in value. Proceeds from separate assets also remain separate.

Gifts or inheritances specific to one spouse, even during the course of the marriage, are also separate. One exception is a gift from one spouse to another, which typically is a marital asset.

Effect of agreements

A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can provide that particular assets or types of assets will stay separate, even when the law would otherwise consider them marital. During the divorce process, spouses who opt for collaborative solutions may also choose to agree on a division that would differ from the court's likely decision.

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