With the stress of trying to stay afloat during difficult economic times, the added pain of a marriage that is falling apart can make things seem unbearable. Without a doubt, divorce can have serious financial consequences for both spouses that can also affect future planning for the children.
The outcome of a contested divorce proceeding will determine issues such as property division, custody of the children, child support and alimony, so it is best to plan ahead so that you are prepared for the outcome. Having a compassionate family law attorney in the St. Petersburg area who will keep your best interests in mind is an important part of this preparation.
How are marital assets divided in Florida?
Divorce in Florida, called “dissolution of marriage”, is guided by equitable distribution theory. This means that during a divorce proceeding, the judge will rule on how the jointly shared marital assets as well as debts will be divided according to what he judges to be fair. Shared debt may include mortgages, credit card debt or car payments.
The court will not divide separate assets such as property, inheritance or cash that has not been commingled as marital property. Once the value of all marital property is determined, the judge will decide property division according to what he judges is equitable. There are several factors that go into the decision:
- Contributions to the marriage, such as childcare or home improvement
- The economic circumstances of both spouses
- Length of the marriage
- Interruption of career or education, or contributions by one spouse for another’s career or education
- Who has custody of the children
- Whether the custodial parent needs to remain in the family home
- A history of wasteful spending by one spouse
What about child support and alimony?
The considerations that determine child support and alimony depend on a number of factors. The judge can order the non-custodial parent to pay child support, he but will also look at that parent’s ability to pay as well as the number of children and their needs.
In ordering alimony or spousal support, the court will consider:
- standard of living during marriage
- length of marriage
- age and health of the spouses
- financial resources and earning capacity of both spouses
- history of adultery
It’s important to remember that new tax laws allow alimony payments to be deducted from gross income, but not child support.