One of the major aspects of settling a divorce is agreeing on the division of property. While this may seem like a simple issue, in Orange County, Florida, it can be challenging and even contentious for many couples, especially those with high net worth. That’s why it is essential to have a skilled division of property attorney from Orlando Family Team handle your case.
At Orlando Family Team, our lawyers are compassionate people as well as aggressive litigators.
We have spent two decades successfully handling divorces for our Orange County clients. Our division of property attorneys have the right combination of negotiation skills, determination, and empathy to help you through this difficult period. We also have comprehensive, detailed knowledge of divorce law in Florida.
Marital Assets vs. Separate Assets in Orange County Division of Property
The distinction between marital assets and separate assets is not as clear-cut as you may imagine. For the most part, any property accumulated during the marriage is considered marital property. That includes real estate, vehicles, savings, investments, businesses, and pension and retirement accounts. Marital debts are also usually owed by both parties.
Separate assets, on the other hand, include property each spouse brought to the marriage or property and funds designated for one party only, such as inheritances, gifts, or lawsuit settlements.
Florida Splits Marital Property According to the Law of Equitable Distribution
Florida, like the majority of states, does not divide marital property 50-50, but rather according to the principle of equitable distribution. What this means is that although marital assets will usually be split evenly between the two parties, there are situations in which exceptions must be made for a just settlement to be reached. If the court perceives that an equal split will be unfair to one spouse, who, for example, has far fewer resources than the other, an exception will be made.
Reasons for Unequal Division of Property in an Orange County Divorce
The court may find that an exception has to be made in the division of property in a divorce based on factors such as:
- Unequal contributions to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to childcare and homemaking
- Present financial circumstances of each spouse
- Duration of the marriage
- Whether one spouse’s career or education was interrupted by marital responsibilities
- Whether one spouse supported the other’s academic or career advancement
- Whether a business or professional practice must remain controlled by one party, without the interference of the other, in order to continue to be successful
- Whether the one spouse’s contribution to the couple’s income or, conversely, to the couple’s debt, was significantly greater than the other’s
- Whether the marital home should be retained by the custodial parent as a residence of the couple’s dependent child
- Whether one spouse deliberately depleted or destroyed marital assets after the divorce papers were filed
It is also notable that exchanges of particular assets can be arranged between the opposing attorneys if one piece of property has more sentimental value to one spouse than to the other.
Complications in Orange County Division of Property in a Divorce
In addition to the exceptions the court may make to help each spouse leave the marriage able to live independently, there are a number of other division of property complications that will make you glad you engaged the services of an experienced division of property attorney. These include:
1. Commingled Assets
During years of companionable marriage, most couples do not keep their finances strictly separate unless they have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. This means that during the period they are together, most couples “commingle” at least a healthy portion of their assets, for example in joint bank accounts or to make large purchases. In such situations, it is clearly problematic to decide who owns what and may be very hard to divide property equitably.
As an example, though a home owned by one spouse before the marriage is often considered separate property, commingled funds may make this confusing. If combined marital funds have been used to make mortgage payments or make significant improvements to the house, or if both parties assume debt to refinance the home, the house may come to be counted as a marital asset.
2. Complex Valuations and Appraisals
Marital property is divided after accumulated assets, such as real estate, jewelry, or collectibles, are evaluated. However, certain types of property are difficult to appraise, such as artwork. And the estimated value of any property may fluctuate greatly from one year to the next. Without a firm assessment of value, it is almost impossible to agree on how to split the property fairly.
3. Hidden or Concealed Assets
Whether out of greed or revenge, some divorcing spouses attempt to hide funds or property from the other party to keep it from being included in marital assets. This makes fair distribution impossible. For this reason, the individual who conceals assets, if found out, will be held in contempt of court and may have to pay a penalty, assume the other spouse’s court costs, or pay the other spouse more alimony.
4. Enforceability of a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are designed to protect one spouse from sharing wealth if there is a divorce or from having to pay half of the other spouse’s accumulated debts. However, this tactic only works if the legal document is enforceable. Questions often arise about its enforceability if, for example, the spouse on the losing end of this agreement argues that they were coerced into signing the agreement.
Contact Our Orange County Division of Property Attorney Today
As you can see, dividing marital property in a divorce agreement is not an easy job, especially when there is a confrontational debate between spouses. For this reason, it is critical to get in touch with one of the legal advocates at the Orlando Family Team as soon as possible. Contact us by phone or online now to discuss your best options with a competent, caring professional.