Any assets that are either shared or acquired during a marriage are considered to be marital property. The way that they are divided up during a divorce depends on where the couple lives. In Florida, all marital property is divided up via a procedure called “equitable distribution”. This means that a judge takes into account each spouse’s assets and needs when dividing up the shared property, rather than merely dividing it all equally.

It’s ideal for couples to have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place to clarify what assets and liabilities belong to each spouse. However, there are other steps that you may take to help protect your financial interests in a divorce.

You should avoid depositing any non-marital funds (like an inheritance) into a joint account that you share with your spouse. Any gifts or inheritances that you receive before or during your marriage is considered non-marital property. If you deposit those funds into a joint account, however, this is called comingling. If this occurs, then the funds will no longer be considered solely your own.

Income that you earn during your marriage is considered marital property. Therefore, keep your paychecks out of your private, non-marital accounts. This is also considered comingling. You always need to keep marital and non-marital money separate.

Husbands and wives also often aren’t aware of how their spouse can claim a portion of a property value increase for themselves — even if you owned the property before your marriage. A judge will look at whether you and your spouse both contributed to its care and improvement. If you did, then they may decide that you both are entitled to any value increases.

The same logic can be applied if a spouse owns a business coming into your marriage. If one of you did, then it may be possible for the other to claim some degree of ownership to it or proceeds from its sale in a divorce.

Property and custody matters tend to drag out the settlement of divorces the most. Couples who have valuable assets should consult with a property division attorney that can provide advice as to how to split up assets such as a Kissimmee home or business the most cost-effective way possible.