When people get divorced in Florida, they must equitably divide the assets they own as a couple. An equitable distribution might mean that each spouse gets half but sometimes fairness requires one spouse to get more than half.
Property division in a divorce is complicated and doing it right requires legal advice from a knowledgeable family attorney. A Little Gables equitable distribution lawyer can review your situation and help you get the property settlement that meets your needs.
Understand the Difference Between Personal and Marital Property
When people divorce, they must separate their personal property from the marital property. Personal property is everything someone owned before they got married, plus any gifts or inheritances received by just one spouse. Everything else is marital property.
This simple concept gets complex if a spouse did not treat personal property as theirs alone during the marriage. If one spouse owned a condo as an investment when they got married, it would usually be personal property. However, if the rental income went into a joint bank account, or maintenance and upkeep came out of joint funds, the other spouse could claim the condo is marital property.
A premarital agreement can resolve many disagreements about which property belongs to both spouses and which belongs to only one. When a couple has no prenup or if one spouse challenges it, distinguishing marital property from separate property can get complicated. Advice from a Little Gables equitable distribution attorney can help clarify the issues and allow a spouse to set reasonable expectations.
How Equitable Distribution Works
Once the couple has agreed which assets count as marital property, they must agree on a valuation. Sometimes valuation is relatively simple, especially when a couple’s marital assets are mostly in cash and property like a family home. However, valuation can be challenging if one of the spouses owns a business, is paid in part through bonuses or stock options, has a pension plan, owns multiple properties, or they hold some of their wealth in art, antiques, jewelry, or collectibles.
Divorcing couples must disclose all their personal and marital assets and debts and prove the value of the assets they claim. Disputes often arise when one spouse questions the value the other put on a marital asset or one spouse attempts to hide assets from the other. A Little Gables property division attorney has a network of appraisers, forensic accountants, tax specialists, and others who can track down assets and value them, ensuring both spouses get a fair share.
If the couple cannot agree how to divide their property, a Judge will decide based on various factors relevant to the particular couple as set forth in Florida Statutes § 61.075. If they have school-age children, the Judge might award the family home to the spouse with primary physical custody, so the children do not need to move or change schools. The Judge also could consider the value of each spouse’s personal property, the contributions each made to the marriage, and whether certain assets (such as a business) should be in the hands of just one spouse rather than shared between them.
Negotiation Often Produces the Best Results
Divorcing couples often have difficulty communicating but they can save a lot of time, money, and aggravation if they can agree to a property division settlement. Leaving the issue to a Judge requires a big investment in time and legal fees, is less private, and there is no guarantee either spouse will be satisfied with the result.
Mediators can often guide a couple to a property division agreement. Mediators understand the law and are skilled at helping couples have productive and focused discussions. When a couple uses a mediator, they have control over the process and the result. A mediated settlement often means each spouse made compromises but felt it is fair and meets their needs.
When there is a concern about a spouse’s safety due to domestic abuse or if the couple cannot communicate constructively, mediation might be less effective. In such cases, a Little Gables attorney can negotiate with the other party’s legal representative.
Get the Settlement You Need With a Little Gables Equitable Distribution Attorney Today
When you are getting a divorce, you are probably concerned about your financial life going forward. You want to start your new life with a fair share of the property you and your spouse acquired together.