Divorce: Splitting Assets and Debts
It’s natural to think of divorce as the “end” of a marriage. But this way of thinking only contributes to the stress and high emotions you may experience during your divorce.
It’s also wrong.
The marriage has already ended…that’s why you’re getting a divorce! The divorce proceedings are simply setting up what the next stage of your lives will be like. And one of the first steps in the process is splitting your assets.
HOW ARE ASSETS SPLIT?
In a Florida divorce, splitting assets and debts equally and fairly between the two parties is one of the first steps. As difficult as it is to think about, dividing the property needs to be done early, as it has an impact on other elements of the divorce.
During this step, it is important to not only identify each of your assets, but classify them as either marital (property acquired during the marriage) or nonmarital (property acquired outside of the marriage).
Because Florida is a community property state, state law mandates that each spouse has a right to 50% of all marital assets. For this reason, misidentifying or misclassifying assets could have a detrimental effect on your life after the divorce.
For example, many couples (and their lawyers!) fail to list businesses as a party to the divorce. Yet even if only one spouse is listed as an official owner of the business, it may be considered marital property.
If you put significant time, money, and energy into growing a business owned by your “spouse,” there’s a good chance that business is marital property.
SPLITTING ASSETS FAIRLY
Other law firms will often take the easy approach when it comes to dividing assets in divorce, and simply declare that each spouse gets half of each asset. But this method breaks down quickly, leading to frustration and anger (two things we try to avoid here at Leap Frog Divorce).
That’s why we take the time to get to know our clients. By asking a series of pointed questions, we can help you identify marital assets that you never would have thought about.
You probably know to list real estate, the family vehicles, and bank accounts, but some types of assets are less obvious. Collections, memberships, retirement accounts, intellectual property, timeshares, and even digital downloads should all be considered when dividing assets in a divorce.
Legally, the term “property” includes a wide variety of things, and property division should be a carefully thought-out process.
Instead of taking a machete to your stuff, we can use a surgical scalpel approach to your divorce, splitting assets in a way that makes sense.
CAN YOU DIVORCE WITHOUT SPLITTING ASSETS?
If the two of you have been separated for a while, you may have already agreed on a fair split of assets and debts. While Florida law doesn’t have an official separation process, it does recognize that this is a fairly common occurrence between couples and this should not affect your divorce.
In cases like this, an uncontested divorce may be your best option.
In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree on the terms and details of the divorce, such as splitting of assets and debts, child custody, and visitation schedules.
SPLITTING DEBT IN DIVORCE
It isn’t just assets that need to be divided in divorce. Any debt you’ve acquired—from a mortgage to credit card debt—needs to be fairly divided too.
Like assets, debt is either classified as marital or separate. Florida considers all property as equitable distribution, which means that both spouses are responsible for debt that was acquired during the marriage. In some cases, a judge might determine that a debt acquired during the marriage is separate property. An experienced attorney can look into your unique situation and let you know what to expect.
For example, you don’t want to get stuck with half of the debt if your spouse was the one responsible for sinking all that money into an expensive hobby. A good divorce attorney knows how to divide debt in a way that makes sense.
READY TO START YOUR JOURNEY?
I’m AJ Grossman, an Orlando-based family law attorney, and I started Leap Frog Divorce as a client-focused law firm. I do whatever it takes to help my clients achieve their goals, whether I need to be a consultant, mediator, lawyer, or co-counsel to assist your current lawyer.
Going through a divorce is exhausting and emotionally draining. But I do this every day and am an expert in family law. Throughout the process, I keep an eye on the big picture, coaching you to make the right choices that will help you today and well into the future.
Sign up for one of our Consultations so that we can begin the process of dividing your assets and start your journey that will eventually lead to a happier place.