The state of Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that you could potentially lose more than 50% of a marital estate in a divorce settlement. Depending on the circumstances in your case, your real estate investments may be considered part of the marital estate. However, there are strategies that you might be able to employ to protect a rental home, piece of land or other real property that you want to keep.
Put your investments in a trust
Assets that are titled in the name of a trust are considered to be outside of the marital estate. Therefore, it’s unlikely that they would be included in a divorce settlement. Of course, the trust must generally be created before the marriage occurs or several months before the divorce process begins. Otherwise, it may be considered invalid, which would increase the risk that you’ll cede a potentially valuable asset to your spouse.
Include them as separate property in a custom marriage contract
A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may be used to stipulate that a particular piece of property will remain in your possession if the marriage comes to an end. It may also be used to stipulate that your spouse is not entitled to any of the current or future profits that your real estate holdings generate.
Be careful not to commingle assets
If you owned property before you got married, it will typically be considered separate property. However, this may no longer be the case if marital funds were used to build a home on a vacant lot or to maintain an existing property. It’s generally in your best interest to keep careful records to ensure that your holdings will retain their separate status throughout the course of a marriage.
Protecting assets is one of many priorities that you may have when negotiating a divorce settlement. If a key asset remains in your marital estate when marriage dissolution proceedings begin, it may be possible to retain it in exchange for waiving your right to other property such as a vehicle or art collection.