Often, the last thing we’re thinking about before we get married is how a court could divide our property in the event of a divorce. But if you live in one of the forty states without marital or community property laws on the books, it could come down to a judge deciding what is a fair split. So which states have community property laws and which don’t? And if you’re in a non-community property law state, how do courts decide who gets the couch? Here’s an introduction to marital property laws in Florida.
Marital Property Laws Generally
Each state has its own laws dictating how property is treated among married couples. It's important for people who are married or considering marriage to explore their specific state's laws on marital property, so they will know what to expect in case of divorce. Ten states have community property laws that determine how debt and property are divided in a divorce: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Washington and Wisconsin. These states typically divide property equally, while other states without community property laws follow “equitable distribution,” meaning that a judge decides what is equitable, or fair.
Marital Property Laws in Florida
State marital property laws can vary, and not all states have such laws on the books. Below, you'll find information on Florida marital property laws.
Community Property Recognized?
No, but Uniform Disposition of Community Property Rights at Death Act (UDCPRDA) adopted. (§§732.216, et seq.)
Dower And Curtesy
Dower and curtesy abolished (§732.111);
statutory right to elective share of surviving spouse recognized (§§732.201, et seq.)
Since Florida does not adhere to community property laws, courts will instead look at some of the following factors to determine situations where a disproportionate division of property is necessary:
- Marital Fault: You or your spouse may receive more of the marital property if fault grounds for divorce were present (such as adultery, cruelty, etc.), although Florida is a no-fault divorce state (meaning fault of either party is not a requirement);
- Disparity of Earning Capacities: Whether gaps exist between your incomes, earning capabilities, and/or business opportunities that may affect the division of property;
- Health and Physical Conditions: Whether the physical health or condition of you or your spouse could affect the division of property
- Age Differences: Whether there is disparity in your ages which may affect one’s ability to work, or receive retirement benefits;
- Anticipated Inheritances: Whether you or your spouse stand to receive a large inheritance; and
- Gifts to a Spouse: Gifts are normally converted to separate property after a divorce.
Related Resources for Marital Property Laws
If you are going through a divorce, or want to know what your property rights would be should you get married, you can consult with a Florida divorce attorney. For more general information on this topic you can visit FindLaw’s divorce and property section.