Law Office of Daniel E. Forrest, P.A.

The last thing you want when you're going through a divorce is to be surprised by your property division settlement or the laws of your state. Fortunately, the laws in Florida are very clear where property is concerned.

In Florida, the state uses equitable distribution laws. That means that your assets won't necessarily be split 50/50. Instead, you and your spouse should come to a fair settlement. If you can't do so on your own, then a judge can make the property division decisions for you.

This is the first decision made in a divorce, and a judge can make it for you if there are arguments or contentious issues that you can't work out between yourselves. If you and your spouse want to make a different arrangement, work with your attorneys and negotiate a settlement. Submit that settlement to the court and have the judge approve it. He or she may not, but in most cases, the judge will accept an agreement you both accept.

Marital assets are defined by the state, so you'll need to go through your assets with your attorney to show which are separate and which are marital. Separate property remains in the possession of whoever owns it, whether it's you or your spouse, and marital property has the potential to be negotiated for and split.

Interestingly, if you had assets that were separate but increased in value during your marriage, that value may be split as a marital asset. That's something to think about if you have a savings or retirement account in particular.

Source: Naples Daily News, "It's The Law: Surprises when property is divided in divorce," accessed Jan. 13, 2017

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