Knowing when, and if, to file for divorce can be one of the hardest decisions a couple can make. Before deciding on a divorce it is common for couples to go through a separation period where they are not divorced, but they are still legally married. The State of Florida considers a couple to be married until a divorce action is filed and, as such all of their assets or debts acquired during the separation period would be classified as marital assets and debts.
It may be important to file for divorce in a timely manner, so that any assets or liabilities incurred during the separation do not become marital assets. In 2006 a Florida Appeals Court heard the case Willman v. Willman that involved a divorce where the couple was separated for two years. The District Court of Appeals determined that during the two years the couple was separated but still legally married the husband’s pension was marital property and thus would be split equally. Because the couple did not have a separation agreement the husband’s pension was considered a marital asset until the date of filing for divorce, not the date of separation. A legally married couple’s assets remain marital assets until the date they file for divorce.
This goes the same for debts as well. If a couple is separated and one person incurs debts before they file for divorce, the Court may consider that debt a marital asset and hold both parties responsible for its repayment, even if the parties were living separately at the time the debt was incurred.
When determining alimony Courts will also look at the date of filing for divorce rather than the date of separation when determining the amount of alimony and the duration of the alimony.
The longer the parties wait to file for divorce the more challenging it might be. Whether you are newly separated or you have already filed for divorce, we advise that you take advantage of Platt Hopwood Attorney’s free consultations to determine the right path for you. Call our office today to set an appointment at (321) 725-3425.