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Why the Cut-Off Date Matters in Florida Divorces

March 31, 2022

Crystal Espinosa Buit

During an initial divorce consultation, I’m often asked, “What if I’m unsure of whether to file?” Of course, the decision of whether to file for divorce is a deeply personal one, and one that is both complex and difficult. No one should be rushed into such a decision, and often, time does provide greater clarity. However, there is a critical factor that must be given consideration.

According to Florida law, the “cut-off date” for determining whether an asset is marital (and, therefore, subject to equitable distribution between the spouses) “is the earliest of the date the parties enter into a valid separation agreement, such other date as may be expressly established by such agreement, or the date of the filing of a petition for dissolution of marriage.”

The significance of this “cut-off date” cannot be overlooked. To you, the marriage may essentially be “over.” You and your spouse may even choose to separate. However, these facts alone, without an agreement or filing to establish a “cut-off date," may nonetheless still result in newly acquired income and assets, as well as appreciation of assets, being deemed marital.

If you believe divorce may be imminent or even likely, you may wish to protect your interests, such as your future earned income or a new business venture you anticipate establishing. One option for protecting yourself is entering into an agreement, such as a postnuptial agreement or simply an agreement that establishes a “cut-off” date. If an agreement is not possible (for example, your spouse would not be agreeable), your other option is to file for divorce to establish a “cut-off date.” This will result in applicable income/assets earned after the date of filing to be classified as separate to you.

It’s always important to remember that filing does not necessarily mean the divorce must proceed full steam ahead either. If you and your spouse are trying to determine whether reconciliation is possible, or you want to attend marriage counseling, you may enter into an agreement to “stay” (or pause) the divorce proceeding for a set period of time. The date of filing (or “cut-off date”) will remain in place, while you and your spouse get the breathing room necessary to work toward reconciliation of the marriage.

Again, the decision of whether to file for divorce is certainly emotionally challenging, but it may also have significant financial consequences as well. It’s important to talk with an attorney who can help protect your best interests.

This article is informational only. You should consult an attorney before acting or failing to act. The law may change rapidly and no warranty is given. LOWNDES DISCLAIMS ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES AND WITHOUT LIMITATION, ANY WARRANTY OF FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. ALL ARTICLES ARE PROVIDED AS IS AND WITH ALL FAULTS. Consult a Lowndes attorney if you wish to establish an attorney/client relationship.
Crystal Espinosa Buit devotes her practice to providing skilled and supportive legal representation for clients going through complicated and often highly emotional family law matters, including divorce, child support, child custody, alimony and family law litigation. She also has significant experience negotiating and drafting prenuptial and postnuptial agreements for couples seeking financial protection and peace of mind. Her clients include high-net-worth individuals, business executives, doctors, lawyers, professional athletes and other prominent professionals, as well as the spouses of such individuals.

A strong and compassionate advocate, Crystal knows every family is unique and no two cases are the same. She works tirelessly to find creative solutions that minimize conflict and suit each client’s best interests and individual needs. A wife and mother of two, Crystal also understands the difficult decisions her clients face, and she works closely with them to keep them informed and supported as they navigate uncharted territory and make important choices for themselves and their children.

With her training and experience in collaborative family law, Crystal believes that most couples and families can benefit from avoiding lengthy courtroom battles by resolving conflicts regarding issues like shared parenting time, child and spousal support, and property division through alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation, arbitration, and collaborative law. When litigation cannot be avoided, she and the firm’s other family law attorneys will zealously represent you and your interests in the courtroom.

An Orlando native, Crystal is an ardent supporter of her undergraduate alma mater, the University of Central Florida. She currently serves on its Alumni Association Board of Directors and was honored with the UCF Jefferson Award for Constituent Chapter Volunteer of the Year in recognition of her generosity and service to the university. Previously recognized by Florida Super Lawyers as a “Florida Rising Star,” Crystal graduated magna cum laude from the University of Florida Levin College of Law. While in law school, she was a member of the Florida Law Review and earned five Books Awards, including Interviewing & Counseling; Negotiation; and Family and Public Policy.
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