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One of the most difficult and complex factors in a divorce is the division of a couple’s assets and debts. Marital property includes cars, houses, retirement benefits (pensions and 401k plans), business interests, cash, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, personal property, and other things of value. An experienced attorney can diffuse some of the emotions that arise during this phase of a divorce and bring a common-sense approach to the division of property and assets, while also protecting the rights of his or her client.

Debt is also subject to division in a divorce. Marital debts, also called liabilities, include mortgages, car loans, credit card accounts, and other amounts of money you and your spouse owe to third parties.

Generally, any asset or liability acquired during the marriage is considered marital and subject to distribution.

Equitable Distribution

Florida statutes and case law provide for an “equitable distribution” of marital assets and liabilities. Marital property should be divided fairly or equitably (not necessarily equally) between parties, regardless of how title is held. Courts decide equitable distribution before make determinations about spousal support.

In most cases, dividing property and assets will begin with identifying what needs to be divvied up. All property and assets acquired by either spouse during the marriage, with the exception of gifts, inheritance, or certain property identified in a pre-nuptial agreement, can be subject to division. Once the property is identified, it is divided equitably.

Couples have the option of working out a property division plan on their own and as long as it’s reasonable, the court will approve the couple’s wishes. If a couple is unable to agree on property division, the court will intervene and divide property as it sees fit. When doing so, the court looks at various factors, including the contributions each spouse made during the marriage, the value of the property, the economic circumstances of each spouse at present, and increases or decreases in the value of property during the marriage.

Property division is not a way to “get back at” or gain revenge on a spouse who did something to betray you. Florida is a no-fault state and will not use either spouse’s behavior to determine how property is divided.

Business Ownership

The process of dividing marital property becomes even more complicated if there is a business involved. Often, divorces in which one or both spouses owns a business require the assistance of a financial expert to value the business.

If you are in the midst of a divorce and you have questions about the division of property and debts, we can help. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with an attorney, contact The Law Offices of Robert M. Geller at 813-254-5696 or use the online contact form.

Call (813) 254-5696 anytime, or use this contact form, for your free initial consultation.
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