Can I Lose My Personal Property in a Divorce Settlement?
Many married couples tend to pool their financial resources, including funds they earned before they walked down the aisle. While co-mingling assets is an easy way to help marriages get off to a good financial start, this practice is just one way you can lose your personal property in a divorce settlement. Experienced lawyers work hard to protect your valued assets through courtroom litigation when necessary. However, individuals willing to negotiate a pre-trial property division settlement generally obtain the best results.
An important part of preparing for divorce involves creating a financial affidavit in Florida that itemizes all property, and identifies each asset as non-marital (individual) or marital property. Marital property typically includes items acquired during the marriage, including most income. Non-marital property includes assets you brought into the marriage, but it also includes certain types of income, such as the proceeds from a personal injury claim settlement or award. In most cases, individuals can retain ownership of their individual property. However, the moment a spouse places a non-marital asset into joint ownership — such as depositing personal injury proceeds into a joint account — that asset becomes marital property.
Even though non-marital assets should remain in the hands of the original owner, Florida is an equitable distribution state. Subsection 61.075 of the Florida Dissolution of Marriage Statutes provides an extensive list of considerations judges make when dividing property. For example, the law considers the enhanced value and appreciation of nonmarital assets as marital property. When needed to achieve an equitable settlement, judges can potentially award a non-marital asset to the party who did not originally own it.
Judges do not know the involved parties, so they make their decisions based largely on guidelines. However, the parties of divorce are really in the best position to make their own choices. The divorce attorneys at Weiner & Weiss, LLC have nearly four decades of experience guiding divorcing couples through the negotiations that leave both parties with the assets needed to start a new life.