Division of marital property is one of the most difficult challenges a spouse can go through during a divorce. Equitable distribution refers to the division of certain assets and debts that were acquired during the course of the marriage. Most assets and liabilities that were received outside the marriage will not be divided up between the parties pursuant to state law. Florida follows the rule of equitable distribution which means the relevant marital assets and liabilities are to be divided equally. Despite the rule, it does not always mean that marital property is strictly divided in a fifty-fifty ratio. Other factors, such as alimony, child support, and time sharing will also play a role in how the distribution is to occur. In the case of a high net worth or wealthy spouses, the equitable distribution may become quite time consuming and complex. Matters are made worse where one spouse tries to hide assets or income from the other spouse.
Whether you are thinking about or have actually begun a divorce preceding you should contact an experienced Jacksonville divorce lawyer to protect your property, assets, and other monetary items. Our job is to thoroughly go over your spouse’s financial statements and other documents evidencing what assets and liabilities they may really have and what assets they may really be hiding. Sometime, it may become necessary to hire a private investigator and other professionals to assist us in making a real determination of your spouse’s assets and real financial health. We do this to ensure that your soon to be ex-spouse does not try to hide any wealth accumulations on the eve of a divorce. Unfortunately, this happens more often than people think so it is best to protect yourself fully.
Equitable distribution in a divorce will include many, if not all, of the assets you accumulated during the entire marriage. This can include, but is not limited to, automobiles, boats, recreational vehicles, real estate, investment real estate, retirement plans, assets in bank accounts, furniture, electronics, collectibles, and business or potential business assets. While this list may seem daunting, it is important to remember that the Court may deviate substantially from the equal distribution of such assets based upon things such as the spouse’s relative incomes, the party’s lifestyle during the marriage, non-equitable assets, and the financial behavior of both spouses before the divorce was filed and after the dissolution case was filed. While disputes often arise when dealing with equitable distribution it is often the desire of the parties to negotiate a fair settlement of this matter rather than to litigate this issue in Court. Sometimes this is better as both parties may walk away from a negotiated disposition feeling they got most or the majority of what they were looking for in the first place. Leaving the matter up to a Judge to decide may create uncertainty and lead to a less than desired result for one or both parties.