Assets and Debts Are Divided in Divorce

Many people get married, and around forty percent of the ones who do get divorced. Very few of those people go into a marriage understanding how assets, and debts, will be treated in a property division if the marriage is terminated.

In most cases, individual assets that people had before a marriage remain theirs even in a divorce, as long as they were kept separate in the original holder’s name. The same is true for inherited property or inherited money that were received during the marriage.

Some assets are not so simple, though. If you owned a business before marriage and it grew in value during the marriage, an ex-spouse could claim that they contributed to the increase in value and claim some of it.

Even money kept in separate accounts could be considered marital property if the funds were used primarily for ongoing household expenses, like a mortgage. For anyone really concerned about protecting money from a future divorce, it would be best to keep separate accounts as separate as possible, and not use those accounts for shared expenses.

Any assets acquired during the marriage will generally be considered shared property in a property division.

Florida divorce attorneys point out that Florida is an “equitable distribution” state. Unlike other equitable distribution states, though, a court in Florida will begin with the assumption that it will make a half-and-half split of all assets. From there, the court will consider other factors, and may reach a conclusion that is far from a 50-50 split. The other factors include the length of the marriage, the incomes of each spouse, financial behavior during the marriage and after, and other considerations.

When it comes to debts, spouses keep pre-marital debts too. If a spouse came to the marriage with credit card debt and student loans, they won’t generally become the other spouse’s problem.

At least not directly. The creditors on those debts could still pursue payment from shared assets that the two spouses have together. If a potential spouse has bad spending habits, it may be worth a second thought about marrying them, or at least worth some practical planning for a worst-case scenario.

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