What is a Wife Entitled to in a Florida Divorce?

what is a wife entitled to in a divorce settlement

In Florida, divorce typically leads to a divorce settlement agreement. It’s not uncommon for a divorcee to ask us what the wife is entitled to in a divorce.

The responsibilities of both spouses need to be taken into account, and a family law attorney is a necessity to navigate the legal system through this time.

In a divorce, there are all sorts of issues for the couple to overcome. Florida’s system is a little bit different from most in how they approach the issue of dividing assets in a divorce.

What does the law say about what you’re entitled to in your divorce?

The Legal Framework for the Divorce Process in Florida

The most important thing to remember is that Florida is an equitable distribution state. Many other states look at community property when coming to a divorce settlement agreement, but that’s not the case here.

Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean equal; it means that debts and assets should be divided fairly based on various factors. The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act (UMDA) also plays a role in shaping divorce laws in the state.

Marital assets and debts encompass various aspects of a couple’s financial life, such as real estate, retirement accounts, investments, and even liabilities like credit card debt. Understanding what is classified as marital property and what is separate (non-marital) property is pivotal.

So, in this case, the wife may be entitled to half of the assets, or potentially more, depending on her earning capability and her prospects for supporting herself.

Debts and Assets of the Marriage in a Divorce

As we usually see in many Florida divorce proceedings, the division of marital debts and assets lies at the core of financial fairness. Marital assets will typically include everything acquired during the course of the marriage, from the family home and savings accounts to investments and personal property. Debts, including mortgages, loans, and credit card balances, are also subject to division. For a Florida divorce, a wife is entitled to a fair split of any debt she may have incurred.

Alimony in a Florida Divorce

Alimony refers to spousal support or maintenance mandated by the courts. This maintenance forms a significant part of many divorce settlements within the state. It’s designed to help a lower-earning spouse maintain a reasonable standard of living post-divorce.

In Florida, several types of alimony payments are recognized, including:

  • Bridge-the-Gap: Bridge-the-gap maintenance is designed to help a spouse transition from being married to being single by providing short-term financial support for specific, identifiable needs.
  • Rehabilitative: Rehabilitative support is awarded to assist a spouse in acquiring the education or training necessary to become self-supporting, typically with a specific plan or goal in mind.
  • Durational: Durational alimony provides financial support for a set period. As of July 1, 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis ended permanent alimony in Florida. So, whereas previously, spouses were able to receive alimony indefinitely as long as they had been married 17 years or more, this is no longer the case.

Property Division in a Florida Divorce: Who Gets the House?

Once again, the principle of equitable distribution plays a significant role in determining who gets what from the property holdings of the divorcing couple. Just like in the case of alimony, the court considers several factors to determine the fair distribution of the property.

But what if one person wants to stay in the family home? The court may decide they should hold onto the property in that case. On the other hand, if this isn’t something either party wants, they could decide to sell the house and split the proceeds between them.

In addition to marital property, non-marital or separate property may be identified and protected from distribution. These could include assets owned before the marriage, inheritances, or gifts to one spouse alone.

Child Custody and Support

Kids get a raw deal in a lot of divorce settlements, but Florida does as much as it can to ensure that they have the stability they need to grow up happy and supported. How Florida deals with child custody is known as “time-sharing,” where the parents each have time with the child.

Options available to divorcing parents include:

  • Sole time-sharing and parental responsibility: In this scenario, one parent holds full physical and legal custody of the child, while the other parent doesn’t have any rights to time-sharing or parental responsibilities.
  • Equal time-sharing and joint parental responsibility: In this arrangement, both parents equally divide the child’s time, ensuring the child spends an equal amount of time living with each parent. Additionally, both parents have an equal say in important decisions concerning the child’s life.
  • Sole parental responsibility with joint time sharing: In this case, one parent assumes sole parental responsibility for the child, but the child still spends time residing with both parents.

But what about financial support? Florida employs guidelines to calculate child support payments based on factors like each parent’s income, the child’s healthcare and educational needs, and the number of overnights spent with each parent. The idea is that the court order for child support will offer the child financial stability while ensuring parents live up to their responsibility.

Mediation in a Divorce

Sometimes, a couple needs someone to come in to help them reach a decision about the division of assets in a divorce. Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party, the mediator, helps divorcing spouses reach solutions that are more amicable.

Sometimes, a couple cannot agree on who gets what from the divorce. The mediator is there to help the couple reach an agreement about who gets what in a divorce. It can be beneficial to both individuals and kids to reach a divorce settlement that everyone agrees on.

Should You Seek a Florida Divorce Attorney?

The state’s legal system can be difficult to navigate for a couple going through a separation. Our team at Vollrath Law can help you understand your rights and what you may be entitled to during the divorce process. As a legal team, we’ve helped many a client with their divorce agreement, and we’re eager to help you. Contact us today to take advantage of our professional legal advice in your divorce case.

Author Bio

Stephanie Vollrath is an Owner and Partner of Vollrath Law, a Florida estate planning law firm she founded in 2013. With more than seven years of experience in investments and financial advising and 13 years practicing law in Florida, she represented clients in a wide range of estate planning cases. Her practice areas include wills, trusts, guardianship, probate, and other estate planning matters.

Stephanie received her Juris Doctor from the Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law and is a member of the Florida Bar and the Seminole County Bar Association.

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