How are Digital Assets Divided in a Florida Divorce Case?
As many people rely on technology in their personal and professional lives, it is not surprising that couples will need to address the ownership of digital assets when going through divorce in Florida. Dividing marital property is a central issue in dissolution of marriage proceedings, so you must take into account items in electronic format, stored in the cloud, or otherwise bearing digital qualities. Ideally, parties could benefit from reaching an agreement on this special category of assets, since you have more control over how to divvy things up. If an agreement is not possible, Florida law on property distribution applies.
Therefore, it is important to understand the basics about digital assets in the divorce process in Florida. Your Dade City, FL property division lawyer will advise you on the specifics, but some background is useful.
Overview of Asset Division Laws: In general, Florida’s property division statute requires equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities between the parties in a divorce case. The point of the law is fairness and justice, so the split may not be an equal 50-50. With respect to digital assets, a judge will apply a two-part test in making a determination:
- Whether the parties acquired the electronic asset after getting married; and,
- How to divide the asset according to the principles of equity, which may mean taking into account how other property is distributed, decisions on alimony, and other factors.
Florida Law Applies to Digital Assets: To get a better grasp on how Florida divorce statutes work in the context of property in electronic form, some examples may be useful. You may need to review such digital assets as:
- Music and video subscriptions for streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video;
- Personal images and videos that you store in the cloud through a shared account;
- Documents in electronic format, such as tax returns, mortgage paperwork, financial statements; and,
- Purchased media in which the parties own the rights, such as movies, TV shows, and music.
Options for Resolving Division of Digital Assets: Florida law encourages spouses to agree on how to distribute digital items, so you are free to negotiate a compromise. In the absence of agreement, a judge will decide how to divide property. In either scenario, one of the initial inquiries is determining the value of the digital asset. Note that the arrangement will typically require one party to turn over rights and access to the asset, change the passwords, and handle other details to officially transfer ownership to one person’s name.
A Florida Divorce and Property Division Attorney Can Assist with Details
Digital assets are a unique type of property, but they may still be subject to equitable division if they qualify as marital property under Florida law. As such, it is crucial to retain skilled legal counsel to protect your interests. For more information, please contact a Dade City property division lawyer at The Law Office of Laurie R. Chane. You can set up a consultation at our office by calling 352-567-0055 or completing our online contact form.