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Marital property tag can mean everything in a divorce

Every Florida couple has a different relationship. Some couples choose to share all of their property and belongings with one another, for example, while other couples prefer to keep more independence. There is no single right way of doing things, of course, but the way a couple treats its property can have major implications on the asset division process that takes place in a divorce.

Recently, this blog discussed how the parties' conduct and contributions to the marriage can impact the property division process. In a similar fashion, the parties' treatment of their property will have a big impact. Typically, marital property includes all assets and liabilities that are acquired during the marriage. This includes not only property acquired jointly by the spouses, but property acquired individually as well.

Marital assets go beyond this, however, and also encompasses the appreciation in value of assets, including enhancements in the value of nonmarital assets resulting from the contribution of the spouses. Gifts between the spouses are also counted, as well as vested and nonvested benefits accrued during the marriage in retirement, pension plans and similar accounts.

On the other hand, nonmarital property includes things like assets acquired by either side before the marriage. Assets that were acquired separately, such as an inheritance to one spouse only, may also be considered nonmarital property.

The classification of property as marital or nonmarital can be significant, as it may determine whether the asset is counted for property division purposes. Often times, it is not immediately clear whether an item is marital property, such as when one spouse may have contributed in some way to the acquisition or enhancement of a piece of property that was owned by the other. By understanding the distinctions under Florida law, however, individuals can better protect themselves during a divorce and advocate for their interests.

Source: Florida Legislature, "61.075 Equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities," accessed on June 2, 2016

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