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What Property and Assets a Wife is Entitled to in a Florida Divorce

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What Property and Assets a Wife is Entitled to in a Florida Divorce

Getting divorced is never an easy experience, but it’s important that both spouses understand their rights when it comes to dividing marital property and assets. Florida law aims to create a fair and just divorce settlement whether the wife or husband initiates the proceedings.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain what property and money a wife is entitled to keep or receive in a Florida divorce.

Let’s dive in.

Marital vs Non-Marital Property

The first step is distinguishing between marital property and non-marital property. Only marital property acquired during the marriage is eligible for equitable distribution between the divorcing spouses.

Property or assets owned solely by one spouse before the marriage is considered non-marital and not subject to division, unless it increased in value due to marital efforts or funds.

Examples of non-marital property can include:

  • Property owned before the marriage
  • Inheritances received during the marriage
  • Gifts received during the marriage if given to just one spouse
  • Personal injury settlements received during the marriage

Everything else acquired during the marriage through the joint efforts of both spouses is presumed to be a marital asset. The court has authority to divide marital assets such as:

  • The marital home
  • Retirement accounts and pensions earned during the marriage
  • Bank accounts, stocks, and other investments
    -Vehicles purchased during the marriage
  • Businesses started during the marriage

Understanding which assets are considered marital versus non-marital property will help a wife determine her legal entitlements during the divorce process.

Equitable Distribution

By law, Florida requires a fair and equitable, but not necessarily equal, distribution of marital assets between divorcing spouses. The court considers various factors to determine a just division like:

  • Each spouse’s economic circumstances and needs
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Contributions to the marital partnership (financial or non-financial)
  • Tax implications of dividing assets
  • Each party’s separate assets and liabilities
  • Compensation during the marriage through alimony or child support

Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split. However, wives are generally entitled to receive between 40-60% of the marital assets unless there are significant reasons for deviation, such as infidelity or financial misconduct by one spouse.

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The end goal is for both parties to leave the marriage in a relatively comparable financial position given the circumstances of their union.

Wives should discuss the contributions they made, both economically and non-economically, to help assert their share of marital property rights.

Marital Home Ownership

One particularly complex marital asset is ownership of the marital home. While many wives automatically believe the home will be awarded to them in a divorce, this is not always the case depending on various factors.

Florida courts take into account:

Who holds legal title – Many homes are jointly owned by both spouses. But ownership does not guarantee a right to keep the house.

Down payment source – If one spouse paid the entire down payment with non-marital assets, those funds can be reimbursed before dividing equitably.

Mortgage payments – Regular mortgage payments during the marriage using marital income strengthens the claim of the spouse living in the home.

Length of ownership – How long the couple owned and lived together in the property matters. Shorter marriages mean less of an emotional attachment to the home.

Needs of minor children – Courts tend to award sole possession of the home to the parent with primary custody of any children to provide stability.

The marital home is rarely awarded outright to one spouse. More commonly, the wife would receive a payout representing her fair share of the current equity value or the property is sold and proceeds divided.

Separate Property vs Marital Property

Another important distinction is between separate property brought into the marriage and increases in value of that separate property during the union that are considered marital. Florida is an equitable distribution state rather than community property.

For example, if a wife owned a vacation condo before marriage that appreciated $100,000 due its location and real estate market, the $100,000 increase would likely be deemed a marital gain unless she can prove the uptick was due solely to passive market forces.

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Conversely, retained stocks she inherited and kept in her name only that did not increase in value remain her separate property. Wives need to carefully document all non-marital assets to avoid potential claims from their spouse down the road. Clear records strengthen the case for maintaining separate property status.

Retirement Accounts and Pensions

Retirement funds like 401(k)s, IRAs, pensions earned during the marriage through either spouse’s employment are considered marital property under Florida law.

Wives who worked inside or outside the home full-time are equally entitled to a portion of any retirement savings accumulated jointly over the years.

However, contributions made prior to the marriage and growth on those pre-marital sums remain separate. The portion relating to the marriage itself from the date of wedding to date of separation is subject to equitable distribution.

Often retirement accounts are divided via a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) which splits the balance or monthly payout between the former spouses. Wives should consult a lawyer to ensure proper execution of QDROs post-divorce.

Alimony or Spousal Support

In addition to assets, divorcing wives in Florida may qualify for monthly alimony or spousal support payments depending on specific statutory guidelines assessing financial need and ability to pay.

Key factors judges weigh include:

Length of the marriage – Generally, alimony is awarded for 50% of the number of years wed if the union lasted 10+ years.

Differences in income/earning potentials – If one spouse sacrificed their career for family duties like child-rearing, the higher wage-earner may need to provide support.

Age and health of both parties – Older spouses or those in poor health may require ongoing assistance.

Standard of living enjoyed during marriage – Courts aim to maintain pre-divorce lifestyle for dependent spouses where possible.

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Contributions to education/training of other spouse – Supporting a partner through school may lead to compensation.

Resources of each individual – Overall finances, assets, and costs of living impact alimony terms.

Florida recognizes permanent alimony in lengthy marriages with one dependent spouse but also rehabilitative, transitional, and lump sum awards in other cases. Consulting a lawyer helps wives understand reasonable expectations.

Child Support

Regardless of gender, the divorcing parent with primary custody of any minor children receives ongoing child support from the other parent aimed at financially maintaining the kids.

Child support formulas factor in:

  • Number and ages of children
  • Income and resources of each parent
  • Cost of insurance and child-rearing expenses
  • Extracurricular activity and educational costs

Non-custodial parents usually provide set monthly assistance through automatic wage garnishing if needed. Amounts often last until children graduate high school or turn 18/19 unless special circumstances exist.

Courts prioritize the best interests and needs of divorcing families’ minor kids above rewarding either spouse. Wives should aggressively pursue fair child support awards in divorce settlements.

Putting it All Together

By understanding what property is considered marital versus separate, the wife’s contributions to the marriage, reasonable expectations around assets like the home or retirement accounts

…and potential entitlements to alimony or child support – wives are empowered to make informed decisions during the divorce process.

Consulting promptly with a trusted Florida divorce lawyer clarifies statutory rights. Negotiating from a place of knowledge helps ensure the divorce settlement aligns with each individual situation in a legally compliant way.

With guidance, wives can feel confident navigating their division of assets to exit the marriage fairly.

Overall, Florida aims for reasonable and equitable divorces honoring the investments of time and shared lives built together. Coming to resolution with full awareness of property rights minimizes potential disputes down the road.

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