Fort Lauderdale Division Of Marital
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A divorce settlement deals with the distribution of all marital assets, including cars, houses, retirement plans, and bank accounts. Liabilities like mortgages and credit card bills are also subject to distribution. When people go through a divorce, they often worry about how it will impact them financially. But if you are not careful, your divorce can end up being costly and you can lose out in the property division.
Couples who have been married for a substantial period of time might have considerable assets that they will need to divide, including potentially the marital home. This can be a very difficult issue, and the more prepared the couple is, the easier it can be to properly evaluate the value of the couple’s assets.
Property Division Laws in Florida
Once a divorce petition has been filed, there are several different ways in which a resolution can be sought. If the husband and wife are civil and can make decisions on their own, they can work together (with or without the assistance of attorneys) to create their own property settlement. This method is both the quickest and the least expensive, but it comes with risks: it is very easy for one party to lie about finances or property value, resulting in that party getting a windfall and the other party not getting a fair share of marital property. Under state law, any property is distributed equitably, meaning assets and liabilities are divided fairly, but not necessarily equally.
This allows the court to take various factors into consideration when making its determination, including:
- The length of the marriage
- Whether one member supported the other’s advancement in their career or educational opportunities
- Any intentional waste after the filing for divorce or two years before filing
Property division determinations can also address issues of alimony payments, child support, and child custody agreements. If both members of the marriage can agree on property distribution issues, they can put together a written agreement and present it to the court.
Have You Considered Mediation?
Those who have minor disagreements on how the property should be split might want to consider mediation. Mediation is a process that allows the couple to meet with a neutral third party to assist in developing a divorce settlement without the use of a trial. Couples that are unable to reach an agreement are involved in a contested divorce. In these cases, a trial might be needed to reach a final decision.
Educate Yourself About Finances
One of the most important things people need to do when preparing to divorce is to educate themselves about their family’s finances. People need to know the family’s financial situation in order to be in a position to negotiate a fair property division.
People should have a clear understanding of all of the family’s assets, such as:
- Real estate
- Bank accounts
- Investment accounts
- Stocks and bonds
- Mutual funds
- Similar property
- Any debts the family owes
People going through divorce should begin building a solo financial presence by:
- Opening bank accounts and taking out credit cards in only their names
- Closing accounts and credit held with spouses as soon as they are able so that spouses cannot accumulate more debt in both spouses’ names or dissipate marital assets
In some cases, spouses try to hide assets so that they will not lose them in the property division. Spouses who are unaware of the hidden assets are at a disadvantage in the property settlement negotiations and end up getting less than their fair share of the marital estate.
Some of the more common ways that spouses hide assets include:
- Stowing cash in safe deposit boxes
- Underreporting income to the I.R.S. on tax returns
- Buying collectibles such as art or antiques and understating their value
- Putting off closing business deals or delaying taking bonuses
- Creating phony debts with friends in order for others to hold assets until after the divorce
One of the best ways to make sure that your finances will be protected during divorce is to hire a seasoned attorney to help look out for your best interests during the divorce process and to help ensure that the property division and alimony awards are fair. A skilled attorney can also help identify your priorities during the divorce process, such as a specific child custody arrangement or ownership of specific property, and work to obtain those goals. If you have questions about divorce, seek the assistance of a seasoned divorce attorney who can advise you about your specific concerns.