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Dividing assets in a divorce

Some movies joke about couples breaking up and dividing their belongings with a chainsaw. You understand that your divorce is not a joke and that splitting your property with your spouse will be one of the most painful and difficult things you may have to do. Property division also plays an important role in how well you will adjust to your new life after the divorce. If you obtain a fair settlement or court order, you may have a better chance of transitioning smoothly into the future.

First, however, it is important to understand how Florida law handles asset division between divorcing spouses. As simplistic as it may sound to divide everything equally, it may not always work out that way.

Equitable distribution

An equal division of assets is what happens in states where a community property system exists. However, many factors during a marriage can create a situation that is decidedly unequal. Therefore, Florida is an equitable distribution state. This means that the courts will try to divide your marital property as fairly as possible by taking numerous factors under consideration, including:

  • The educational levels of you and your spouse
  • The level of employability of each of you and your respective incomes
  • Your individual financial needs
  • Your ages and general health
  • Any sacrifices one spouse may have made, such as leaving college or a job to further the partner's career or raise children
  • Whether one spouse may have dissipated assets during the marriage, such as spending on an extramarital affair

The first step in equitable distribution is to determine which of your assets you own jointly with your spouse. Typically, any assets you obtain during the marriage are joint assets, potentially including the appreciation of a business. However, if either of you received an inheritance or individual gifts, those may be separate property as long as you did not mingle them with marital assets. Some of your joint assets may have to go through valuation, such as a business. This can be challenging.

In many cases, spouses can arrive at an equitable division of assets without the interference of a court. They may choose a more civil method, such as mediation or collaboration, instead of a litigated divorce. Not only does this reduce the cost of the divorce, but it may reduce the stress of a very difficult situation. It may help to have an attorney who is skilled at negotiating through alternative dispute resolution and is also prepared to aggressively protect your rights if you decide to take your divorce to court.

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No matter what's your family's need, Brandon Family Law Center has the knowledge and experience to help you. To schedule an initial consultation to discuss your case with the experienced and caring divorce and family lawyers at Brandon Family Law Center, email or call us at 813-438-7119.

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