Matthew Slack Soler and Slack, P.A. 2170 Main St, Suite 403 Sarasota, FL 34237
Equitable Distribution vs. Support Payments
Many individuals feel it is a mystery when a judge divides property, assets, and makes other decisions regarding finances upon the dissolution of a marriage. An individual not trained or experienced in the law can find this process one of the most frustrating and confusing parts of a divorce. Why does she get the house? Why does he get the car? Why do I have to pay support to my ex when they received a lot of other property? This guide is a very brief overview that attempts to shed some light on the shadows and make this process a little more understandable.
This is generally the first step in the division of property during a divorce. In Florida, both spouses are required to turn over financial affidavits and other documents in order for a judge to determine what assets, as well as liabilities, that a married couple has. During this process, the judge will also determine what is marital property and what is non-marital property. Marital property, generally, is that property which a husband and wife has collected throughout their marriage. Non-marital property is property that a spouse collects before marriage or is part of a family gift, inheritance, bequest, etc. For more on marital and non-marital property, see my guide on “Marital vs. Non-Marital Property".
After assets and liabilities are added up, and marital and non-marital property is separated, the judge will then divide the assets and property will between the spouses. At this point the court becomes a court of “equity". This means that the judge’s focus is on “fairness" to the parties. The judge is still, however, governed by Florida law. The judge will look at the parties’ relative positions in life, their employment, health, family, children, etc. and attempt to distribute the property in a fair manner that will ensure both spouses are able to maintain their lifestyle in the manner they did when they were married, or close to it.
Only after property is equally distributed does the judge consider support payments such as child support and alimony. This can be one of the most contentious times in a divorce. A judge is supposed to make determinations of support irrespective of how property was distributed. The point of both types of support is to ensure that one’s children and spouse is taken care of close to the same way they were before the divorce.
Child support is largely determined by Florida Statute. Florida uses a graph based upon the number of children you have and the amount of money you bring in. The judge has very little discretion to adjust child support payments. In addition to paying part of your income to continue to support your children, a court may order you to continue to support your ex for a certain period of time. This is based on the needs of the spouse and your ability to pay. Payments may be ordered continually for a period of time or over a period of time up to a certain amount.
Matthew Slack is an attorney and co-founder of Soler and Slack, P.A. Soler and Slack, P.A. is a Sarasota, Florida law firm practicing in the areas of criminal defense, family law, and personal injury. For more information or to schedule a consultation, do not hesitate to call (941)444-5128 or e-mail Matt at [email protected]. Please visit www.solerslacklaw.com for even more helpful information.
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