Whether you own a spacious yacht or an old dinghy, you rely on your boat for a fun day on the water. You may also use the vessel to make money. Either way, if you are going through a divorce, you may wonder what happens to your favorite boat.
In Florida, judges use the principles of equity when splitting up marital property. This means you should receive a fair share of everything you and your spouse jointly own, even if you do not get exactly half of the marital estate.
Is your boat separate property?
While judges in the Sunshine State typically divide marital property equitably, they often let each spouse keep his or her separate property.
Separate property is essentially anything that is not marital property. If you acquired your boat before you walked down the aisle, it probably belongs exclusively to you. The same is true if you inherited the vessel independently from your spouse.
In either of these cases, you can probably retain ownership of your boat after your divorce concludes.
On the other hand, if your boat is a component of a business you started during your marriage or use to support your spouse, the vessel may be part of the marital estate. If so, your soon-to-be ex-spouse may have an ownership interest in your boat.
Can you reach an acceptable agreement?
If you are like many boat owners, your spouse is not in love with your boat. Even though judges must divide marital assets equitably, you may be able to negotiate boat ownership with your soon-to-be ex.
Before doing so, you must determine how much your vessel is worth. Then, you can perhaps give up certain assets in exchange for your boat.
If you do not want to keep the boat, you have the option of selling it and splitting the proceeds with your spouse.
While you may not have to worry much about what happens to a boat you exclusively own, you must address any vessel that is part of the marital estate during your divorce. Because a settlement is often a cost-effective and quick alternative to a protracted court battle, good-faith negotiation may be the right approach.