Equitable Distribution of Assets and Liabilities

Effective counsel should strive to clarify your rights, with the goal of protection for you and your assets.

Parties in any dissolution of marriage must divide their marital assets and liabilities. Florida’s basic standard is “equitable distribution,” the description of how a court will rule if you are unable to reach a settlement on your own. In most circumstances, the court will equally divide the value of the marital estate.

Like most other states, Florida distinguishes “marital property” from “non-marital property.” Only marital property is divided, while non-marital property belongs solely to the party who owns the non-marital property. The same applies to liabilities or debts.

The attorneys at The Office of Linda A. Bailey work passionately toward solutions that help clients reach resolutions in the most professional manner possible.

Equitable Distribution of Assets and Liabilities.

If you currently are separated, make sure common accounts are not being abused. We can advise you of steps to take to protect yourself and your assets.

Division of Marital Property in Florida. The “marital estate” to be divided usually consists of all property, assets and debts acquired during marriage, with a few exceptions. Marital assets also may include the increase in value of assets owned by one party prior to the marriage, depending upon how the asset was treated during the marriage. Non-marital property includes inheritance and gifts to one spouse from a third party, depending upon how these assets were treated or held during the marriage. During your dissolution process, marital property will be identified, valued, and, ultimately, divided “equitably.” While this actually means “equally” in most cases, there are circumstances which support a non-equal distribution. The attorneys at The Office of Linda A. Bailey have experience and knowledge about division of marital property in Florida and can discuss those circumstances directly with you.

Valuation. In order to equitably divide marital property, your attorney will need to assess the value of all significant assets and debts. This may be done by agreement or by obtaining a formal appraisal or valuation. If parties can negotiate this complicated area, they may reduce the time and expense of the divorce. However, in many situations, such as when there is ownership of a business, a valuation by a certified business valuator may be required.

Determination of Marital and Non-Marital Property. One of the most challenging aspects of complex property division cases is determining what is marital and what is non-marital property. Some assets brought into the marriage or acquired during the marriage, such as real estate, stock options, bonds, 401Ks and family-owned businesses, cannot be easily categorized. While the asset may have begun as a non-marital asset, actions during the marriage may have created marital equity. In these cases, an individualized assessment will need to be made to determine whether or not you will need to divide any of the equity in such assets with your spouse or if you are entitled to any portion of this type of asset held by your spouse.

Hidden Assets. Over the course of a marriage, some spouses choose to acquire assets unknown to the other spouse or to separate assets into an offshore account or other repository. Our firm works with forensic accountants and financial investigators to uncover hidden assets.

Debts. Almost every couple has some type of debt – a mortgage, an auto loan or credit card debt. Generally, if debt was incurred during the marriage, it is marital debt and is owed by both parties. It does not generally matter in whose name the debt is held. There are circumstances where this general rule does not apply; our attorneys will discuss those particular circumstances with you.

Complex or high net worth divorces. In complex or high net worth divorces, the issues usually are different from most cases. Not every family law attorney is familiar with the issues or can properly handle such cases. The attorneys at The Law Office of Linda A. Bailey are experienced in cases involving complex financial matters, including business valuation, tax consequences of prior and current business dealings, division of various types of retirement and investment accounts, and similar complex financial matters.

Dedicated to strength in legal representation, and to giving you peace of mind.