Helping Men Navigate Division of Assets and Debts
During the course of your marriage, you and your spouse will have likely accumulated a great deal of property and experiences together. Various aspects of your lives will have become closely tied up with one another, particularly when it comes to your assets and liabilities. Part of the challenge during a divorce is unraveling these parts of your shared life to make sure that you each walk away with a fair distribution of your property and debts.
This isn’t always an easy task. There will be times that elements of ownership are not clear cut and there may be disagreements between you and your spouse about what constitutes fair responsibility for financial obligations. Another frustrating factor as a man going through a divorce may also be that Florida judges can have a tendency to demonstrate bias in the favor of women when it comes to distribution of assets and debts.
One important element in handling the complexity of this situation is making certain you retain a family law attorney with experience of working on behalf of men. A qualified divorce lawyer will help you to better understand the nuances of the situation and do what it takes to make sure you are treated fairly throughout your case. As the well-known divorce lawyers for men in Tampa, FL, In Law We Trust Divorce and Family Lawyers should be your very first call. Since 2014, the law firm of In Law We Trust Divorce and Family Lawyers, has been annually selected by the National Trial Lawyers of America as one of the Top 40 under 40 in Florida which is a professional organization by invitation only, composed of the top trial lawyers from each state or region who are under the age of 40. We’ve also been a featured member of The National Academy of Family Law Attorneys since 2019, as well as included in Super Lawyers each year since 2017. Our firm is renowned for our experience in family law and for our successes in helping men arrange a fair division of assets and debts.
Establishing Items That Are Assets
The division of assets during a divorce can be a deceptively difficult process. After all, there will be items that you consider to be the sole owner of, but if these were acquired during the marriage there is a good chance that the Tampa court system will find that it is a community asset. This means that both you and your spouse have an equal ownership interest in the property.
The complexity of division can also extend to what is considered to be an asset. In general, it’s safe to assume that anything purchased during the marriage is a marital asset. However, there is a lot of misinformation flying around about whether the individual purchasing an item can be considered the sole owner and that it can be “protected” from your spouse (and vice versa). However, Florida law is relatively robust in this aspect. Just because you make efforts to transfer the title of high-value — like houses and vehicles — into your name, that doesn’t mean it can’t be taken into account when assets are divided. This extends to businesses, too. Any company that was established during the marriage is fair game when it comes to division.
Don’t limit your consideration to physical property, either. Assets take into account everything from savings accounts, to stocks and shares and even your retirement funds. Even if you started building these assets prior to your marriage, the appreciation that has occurred to these over time can be included in any negotiation during your divorce. As such, it is important to keep a thorough record of not only what the extent of your assets are, but also what accounts and stocks your spouse has that you are also entitled to.
One area that can be a stumbling block when it comes to determining assets is inherited or gifted items. Under Florida law, these items are not considered marital property — unless it is expressly specified by the provider that you and your spouse are joint beneficiaries. As such, it’s important to make sure that you have a thorough record of how and under what circumstances you received these gifts and inheritances. The main caveat to this is in respect of anything you purchased as a result of the gift. For instance, if you solely inherited your parent’s home, sold it, and then bought a vehicle with the proceeds after marriage, this can still be considered marital property.
Understanding Items That Are Debts
Just as with assets, the joint debts accrued during a marriage are items that are usually considered shared and are divided between each spouse during a divorce. These are known as “community liabilities” and — with relatively few exceptions — even those debts that have been arranged by the sole agreement and responsibility of a single party, are still regarded as debts both partners are required to address.
As such, the debts being divided are unlikely to be simply those related to shared bank accounts or your home mortgage. Any credit cards that have been taken out will usually fall under the remit of community liabilities that you’re both responsible for. However, one debt that many people are surprised by are student loans that are accrued by one spouse during the marriage. This can be a huge debt and it can seem unfair that you may have to pay for your spouse’s education that you’ll no longer be benefitting from. This is another reason why retaining a family law attorney is vital for negotiating a fair division of this kind of debt.
Additional Elements That Have an Impact
It is usually the intention of the Florida court to operate on the basis that each party in a divorce will receive a full equal share of marital assets and debts. However, this can be simpler in some divorces than others. After all, there are various elements that can factor into which of the assets a party should be entitled to.
As such, the process of division may also take into account:
A caveat to the equitable distribution of debts in particular can be each spouse’s employment status (or in some cases, self employment status). While it is unlikely that the court will distribute all debt responsibility to a single spouse, the income of each party is often taken into account. For instance, if one spouse has largely been a homemaker or unemployed during the marriage or at the time of the divorce, a judge can apportion the majority of debt responsibility to the party with the highest earnings.
The Duration of the Marriage
Florida legislation allows the court to take into account how long the marriage has been intact when dividing property and debts. This is less the case with regard to established community assets, and more appropriate to the division of funds or debts that have appreciated during the period of the marriage and often as a result of the marriage itself.
This doesn’t necessarily refer to whether your spouse or yourself have pursued adultery during your marriage. It’s not the court’s responsibility to reward or punish through the use of asset or debt division. Rather, this refers to whether you or your spouse’s behavior directly and intentionally impacted the value of certain property or credit lines. For instance, if your spouse intentionally damages property to reduce its value, or runs up unnecessarily large credit card bills around the time of your separation, there may be some argument to divide more of the shared property in your favor or apportion a larger degree of the debts to your spouse to account for this.
Some assets may be more important to one spouse than the other, and the courts can take this into account. This is most common when considering the division of the family home where there are shared children involved. It is usually the priority of the court to ensure your kids maintain a safe and stable home environment. If this means either you or your spouse need to retain the property in order to provide the best for your kids, the courts may consider dividing in favor of the primary custodial parent.
Each of these considerations has the potential to make what you might consider to be a simple division of assets and debts into a more complex matter. As such, it is vital to make sure you are working with an In Law We Trust Divorce and Family Lawyers divorce attorney who can make appropriate representations on your behalf while also ensuring there is no unfair bias being placed in your spouse’s favor.
Legal Guidance from a Specialist in Fair Divorces for Men in Tampa
The division of assets and debts can be one of the most contentious and stressful aspects of the divorce process. It can certainly be a complicated matter, but having an experienced, committed, and aggressive lawyer on your side will help. Call us to begin the representation of you and protect your assets. We will promptly review the details of the case and provide you with the dependable court representation that you need. In Law We Trust Divorce and Family Lawyers is a firm of compassion and expertise focused on divorce law for men. We will work very hard to help you achieve the fair outcome you deserve.