Many people enter into divorce proceedings assuming the assets and debts will be divided equally between the parties. However, this is not the case under Florida law. In the state of Florida, courts divide assets and debts equitably, taking into consideration a host of factors, including the choices the couple made while they were married. Some decisions a family makes have more of a financial impact on one party than the other. Courts will often take the impact of family choices into consideration when dividing assets and debts. Some of those considerations are outlined below.
Staying Home to Raise the Children
When someone removes themselves from the work place, several things happen that impact their earning ability going forward:
- They miss out on regular pay raises, reflecting their increased experience and skill
- Ongoing training is not available
- While best practices may evolve, a person not in the work force may not be up to date on these changes
- Promotions go to others who remain in the work force
- They are no longer able to create and maintain the same strong network of contacts in their chosen industry
These disadvantages matter if a person is intent on returning to the workforce and supporting themselves and their children. Additionally, during an absence from the workforce, one is not contributing to their 401K or taking advantage of deferred compensation plans as they would if they were employed outside the home.
Courts can consider one’s choice to stay home for a period of time to raise the children, when evaluating the division of debts and assets. These assets include, but are not limited to, a spouse’s retirement accounts.
Supporting a Spouse in School
Some couples agree that one person should pursue ongoing education opportunities while the other person works one or more jobs to support them while they are in school. In Florida, when determining whether alimony is appropriate, and in determining how much alimony to award, courts may consider both the earning capacity and education level of both parties, and the contribution a party makes to the education and career building of the other party.
Further, for a spouse who did not contribute to their own education because they were supporting their spouse’s education, courts can sider rehabilitative alimony, which allows one to acquire the education, training, or necessary work experience so as to develop the necessary and appropriate employment credentials or skills to obtain a job in their field.
Planning an Equitable Divorce Settlement
Every family is different. Every couple makes different choices which can impact divorce settlements. In order to make certain you are protected, it is essential to have a skilled family law attorney on your side. Eric C. Cheshire, P. A., offers marital and family law services in the West Palm Beach area. From prenuptial agreements to divorce, Eric Cheshire can provide you and your family with quality legal representation, based on years of experience practicing law. Call today to schedule a consultation with Eric Cheshire at (561) 677-8090.