We Help Our Clients Get What They Deserve
Property division is an essential part of the divorce proceedings. These cases become more complex, generally, the longer the marriage is and the more assets and debts are involved. The Tampa property division lawyers at Robert Sparks Attorneys are prepared to handle even the most complex asset division cases.
Contact us today at (813) 606-5050 to discuss your case with a lawyer.
How Assets Are Divided in Florida Divorces
Florida operates by equitable distribution when dividing property in divorce. This means that all marital property is up for division, while separate property will go to its respective owner.
- Separate property – This is any asset or debt classified as such in a premarital/separation agreement, property owned by one spouse before marriage, or acquired during marriage as a gift.
- Marital property – This is anything that does not fall into the category of separate property. Typically, most assets and debts acquired throughout the duration of the marriage are classified as marital.
To learn more about equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities, see § 61.075 of the Florida Statutes.
Factors Considered When Dividing Marital Property
If your divorce does go to court, the judge will consider the following factors when making decisions on to whom which property goes:
- Duration of the marriage
- Income of both spouses
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage
- Health of both spouses (mental and physical)
- Education and earning capacity of both spouses
How Retirement Savings Are Divided in a Divorce
No matter what type of retirement plan you have, it’s considered community property under the Florida Family Code.
The court can divide retirement plans such as:
- Simple IRA
- Traditional IRA
- Roth IRA
The family court will decide how to divide your federally-controlled retirement plans on a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO), but certain things like requiring the retirement plan to pay extended benefits not offered specifically by said plan or providing benefits that exceed its interest value are unaffected by a QDRO.
In many cases, the court will hire an expert to determine the exact current value of a defined benefit plan. An experienced attorney can help you understand the process by giving you the information you need so the court’s final ruling doesn’t catch you by surprise.
Are Pensions Subject to Equitable Distribution?
Just like other types of property, pensions are subject to equitable distribution under Florida law. However, dividing a pension isn’t quite as simple as dividing a fixed amount of money like in a bank account – it requires a considerable amount of effort to determine how it should be fairly divided.
Certain factors like how much each spouse contributed to the pension prior to the marriage as well as how the future value of the pension will be affected by things like inflation also play a major role in determining how and if the pension should be divided.
While you won’t receive the funds or benefits provided by your pension until you’ve retired, your pension can still be split before then. There are a variety of situations that can allow you to keep a larger portion of your pension, and, in some cases, may allow you to keep it in its entirety.
Common situations that could affect how your pension plan is divided:
- Federal plans: If your pension is provided by the federal government rather than the state, it may not be eligible to be included in your divorce, which could allow you to keep the entire plan without worrying about splitting any portion.
- Pre-marital contributions: If you worked and contributed to your pension plan for years before your marriage began, it is likely that the court will award you a larger percentage – in some cases, you may even end up with the entirety of the plan.
Don’t Forget About Your Debts
Just like any other asset considered during the divorce process, a key aspect to pay close attention to is whether or not a debt exclusively belongs to either you or your spouse and whose name is connected to the debt.
Even if either you or your spouse agrees to shoulder the other’s financial burden, the company that is owed money isn’t likely to pay close attention to those agreements made in the courtroom. As long as it is your name on the financial agreement, you are likely to be responsible for any interest, fees, and/or penalties.
It may be in your best interest to completely pay off your debts before signing the final divorce agreement. Not only will this help you avoid any financial complications from missing a payment, but selling off real estate like your marital home could limit or even prevent arguments about who ends up where.
Another option is to sign up for a new credit card and transfer your existing balance to the new account in order to ensure that everything is under the correct name. No matter the direction you choose to take, hiring an experienced property division lawyer in Tampa will help ensure you take the necessary actions to avoid future complications.
Get a Fair Property Division Agreement
Property division cases can be highly contentious, but our firm is committed to working with you along with the other party to secure the best resolution as amicably as possible. Make sure you get a fair property division agreement by entrusting your case to our team at Robert Sparks Attorneys.
Call (813) 606-5050 to learn more about how we can help.