Articles Posted in Equitable Distribution

Marriage has long been described as the union of two people, which in the end gives rise to solidarity of purpose and existence, creating one stronger unit.  With the emphasis put on the union, you can imagine that undoing the union is serious business.  During divorces, emotions run high for different reasons.  The financial aspect of ending the marriage relationship is high on the list of stressors.  For example, if a household brings in $100,000 per year between the husband and the wife, splitting that income in two and trying to maintain the same standard of living is hard to to do.  As a Jacksonville divorce lawyer, I’ve encountered this dilemma many times.  Intertwined in the issue of income splitting is the issue of dividing marital debt (and marital assets, but in this article the focus will be on marital debt).

Marital Debt

Marital Debt

According to Florida Statute 61.075, “All assets acquired and liabilities incurred by either spouse subsequent to the date of the marriage and not specifically established as non-marital assets or liabilities are presumed to be marital assets and liabilities.”  In other words, both parties are responsible for debt created by one or both of them, unless it can be shown that one of them should be solely responsible for the debt.  This means proving that it is non-marital debt.  The person who wants the debt to be considered non-marital debt has the burden to prove that it is non-marital debt.

Most people have had buyer’s remorse from time-to-time. The moment a person realizes he or she has made a bad deal can be very disappointing. As a Jacksonville divorce lawyer, I can tell you that settlement agreements in divorce cases can leave a person feeling the same way. Marital settlement agreements can be used to resolve any issue in a divorce case. Some subjects, like custody or time-sharing, may have to be approved by the court before being made a part of the final divorce decree. Child support, for example, that is normally based on guidelines can be more than what the law requires, if both parties have agreed to it.  A father that has agreed to pay $200 additional in child support per month will typically be stuck with the terms of the agreement he signed.  divorce_pic

Florida courts have long held that a signed settlement agreement in divorce cases will bind both parties.   This is so, because courts prefer people to work the cases out themselves, rather than rely on the court to solve problems through litigation. Jacksonville divorce lawyers would all hope that their clients won’t enter into agreements without the divorce lawyer having an opportunity to review and advise the client about the agreement, but divorce lawyers are sometimes faced with having to search for ways to get a client out of a settlement agreement the lawyer was not involved in.   Unless certain circumstances exist, a person is bound by a signed settlement agreement in divorce cases. Things that can make a settlement agreement unenforceable include fraud, duress, misrepresentation, and overreaching.

For example, a situation where a husband threatened to turn his wife and her business partners in to the IRS unless she signed the marital settlement agreement was found to be duress, and the agreement was set aside. Where one party has lied about what assets are available, courts are likely to invalidate those agreements, as well. Experienced Jacksonville divorce lawyers at the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC can help you maneuver through the issues in your divorce case. Free consultations are available. Call us today at (904) 685-1200.

Separation and Bankruptcy in Florida: Can I file without my spouse if we are separated?

In addition to being emotionally draining for most people, divorces can cause a myriad of issues with the most substantial problems being financial issues.  Sometimes couples split, but don’t legally divorce.  Some states recognize legal separation, but Florida does not.  Living separately from your spouse while still being married is fine, but in Florida it does not have any special legal recognition.  When an individual who is simply living separate from his or her spouse (or is going through a divorce) considers bankruptcy, they often want to know if they can proceed with a bankruptcy without involving their spouse.

The current bankruptcy laws allow a debtor to file an individual bankruptcy regardless of whether he or she is married or in the process of getting a divorce. A debtor is allowed to file a joint or individual bankruptcy during a marriage or during an ongoing divorce.  Generally, when a person is married and filing bankruptcy, either individually or jointly, the income of both spouses determines what type of bankruptcy a debtor can file; either a Chapter 7, 13 or 11. This is known as household income in bankruptcy. Even if only one spouse is filing bankruptcy, the income of the other non-filing spouse will be taken into consideration and must be disclosed to the trustee and court.

ed.jpgWhether or not an asset is “marital” or “nonmarital” is often a key issue in a divorce. Marital assets are generally considered jointly owned by both husband and wife, and it is usually up to the court to decide how those assets will be distributed. Nonmarital assets, however, are considered owned by only one of the spouses and are generally free from distribution in a divorce. You should be aware that liabilities –debts– are treated the same way as assets.

Florida Statute 61.075 addresses this issue and defines marital and nonmarital assets. Marital assets include assets acquired during the marriage, the increase in value of nonmarital assets (if the increase is the result of contribution from both spouses), interspousal gifts during the marriage, and all benefits accrued during the marriage, such as retirement funds, pension, profit sharing, and insurance plans.

Nonmarital assets include assets acquired prior to the marriage, assets acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance, assets excluded from being considered marital by written agreement (such as a prenuptial agreement), and income derived from nonmarital assets, unless the income was “treated, used, or relied upon by the parties as a marital asset.”

bubba.jpgIn September 2011, after 4 1/2 years of marriage shock jock, Bubba the Love Spounge Clem, filed for divorce from his wife, Heather Dawn the Love Spounge Clem, stating the marriage was “irretrievably broken and should be dissolved.” With Bubba having a net worth estimated to be in the millions one would think that the divorce would be highly contested. Not to mention the fact that Bubba is known for making harsh and outrageous comments that often end up stirring up controversy.

However, prior to the 2007 nuptials the parties entered into a prenuptial agreement. And as of a February 13th settlement agreement it appears as though the parties’ assets were divided up pursuant to the prenuptial agreement. Bubba’s now ex wife will receive $1,150 a month in alimony payments lasting for a total of 56 months. She also will receive a one time lump sum payment of $20,000.

Further, both parties agreed, “not to interfere with, annoy, molest or harass the other party or disparage the other party in public,” with special mention made of speaking “on air” about each other. Bubba even went to his twitter account to urge his followers not to disparage his now ex wife.

Lily.jpgWhen couples divorce people expect to hear about fights over who gets what car, who gets what house, etc… However, more and more divorcing couples are fighting over the family dog. Both Britney Spears and Drew Barrymore battled over custody of their respective pooches when divorcing. This is to be expected though, since families seem to now consider their pets as integral parts of their family.

I myself, as a Neptune Beach Divorce Attorney, have seen numerous divorcing clients fight for custody of their dog. But the problem is Florida law views pets as chattel or personal property. For the most part Florida judges typically will not view a family pet as a member of the family, but will instead view Fido as nothing more than personal property, such as a car or boat, that needs to be equitably divided. Currently, only four states (California, Illinois, Maine & New York) view pets as more than personal property, but not in every circumstance.

Here at Law Office of David M. Goldman we are all dog lovers and even bring our dogs to the office on Fridays. My dog Lily is even pictured above. So should you live in the Neptune Beach or surrounding area and are seeking a divorce but don’t want to give up your dog contact a Neptune Beach Divorce Attorney today to schedule a free consultation.

A few weeks ago a report came out that Dmitry Rybolovlev, one of the 100 richest people in the world, had been accused of hiding close to $100 million dollars during his divorce. If you are in a situation involving such incredible wealth, you should seriously consider a prenuptial agreement, which a Jacksonville, Florida Family Law Attorney or a Jacksonville, Florida Asset Protection Attorney can help draw up for you.

However, even if you are not on the Forbe’s richest list, you obviously do not want your spouse to hide assets during your divorce. This can negatively affect division of other assets, which would not be good for you. Plus, this would be fraudulent to the court. But how do you know when your spouse is hiding assets? A recent Forbes article outlines some of the red flags. Many of the tips are somewhat obvious, but may be difficult to see unless you are looking at it from an outside prospective. Here are some tips and warnings to look for:

If your spouse maintains total control of your joint bank account information, make sure you keep track of the bank statements. Most banks have online services, so you should be able to monitor it from there. If your spouse denies you access to the password, but your name is nevertheless on the account, go to your bank and ask for a statement.

Whether or not an asset is “marital” or “nonmarital” is often a key issue in a divorce. Marital assets are generally considered jointly owned by both husband and wife, and it is usually up to the court to decide how those assets will be distributed. Nonmarital assets, however, are considered owned by only one of the spouses and are generally free from distribution in a divorce. You should be aware that liabilities –debts– are treated the same way as assets.

Florida Statute 61.075 addresses this issue and defines marital and nonmarital assets. Marital assets include assets acquired during the marriage, the increase in value of nonmarital assets (if the increase is the result of contribution from both spouses), interspousal gifts during the marriage, and all benefits accrued during the marriage, such as retirement funds, pension, profit sharing, and insurance plans.

Nonmarital assets include assets acquired prior to the marriage, assets acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance, assets excluded from being considered marital by written agreement (such as a prenuptial agreement), and income derived from nonmarital assets, unless the income was “treated, used, or relied upon by the parties as a marital asset.”

Marital property.jpgWhether or not an asset is “marital” or “nonmarital” is often a key issue in a divorce. Marital assets are generally considered jointly owned by both husband and wife, and it is usually up to the court to decide how those assets will be distributed. Nonmarital assets, however, are considered owned by only one of the spouses and are generally free from distribution in a divorce. You should be aware that liabilities –debts– are treated the same way as assets.

Florida Statute 61.075 addresses this issue and defines marital and nonmarital assets. Marital assets include assets acquired during the marriage, the increase in value of nonmarital assets (if the increase is the result of contribution from both spouses), interspousal gifts during the marriage, and all benefits accrued during the marriage, such as retirement funds, pension, profit sharing, and insurance plans.

Nonmarital assets include assets acquired prior to the marriage, assets acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance, assets excluded from being considered marital by written agreement (such as a prenuptial agreement), and income derived from nonmarital assets, unless the income was “treated, used, or relied upon by the parties as a marital asset.”

ed.jpgFlorida is an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital assets are divided on an equitable basis. Or at least that is a court’s objective. Under Florida’s equitable distribution statute, marital property should be equitably divided between divorcing parties. 


Florida Statute § 61.075 requires that a court begin the process of dividing assets and liabilities by setting aside those assets that are defined as “non-marital.”


• typically those assets which either were owned prior to the marriage or inherited during the marriage and not mixed with marital assets,

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