Once you decided to seek an end to your marriage in court, you knew you'd likely encounter various challenges throughout the process. Beyond the roller coaster of emotions your friends told you to expect, you also worried there would be difficulty resolving certain issues, especially those concerning property division. Deep down, your hope was to swiftly and amicably negotiate the terms of your settlement so you could put the past behind you and get on with your life; however, you feared it might not be so easy.
After hearing what some of your business colleagues and friends have gone through, especially when it comes to dividing assets, child custody and alimony, you're determined to try to stay one step ahead of the game to minimize stress and quickly overcome any obstacles that arise. The best way to do that may be to research Florida divorce laws ahead of time and also have a support network lined up to help you over the rough spots should any occur.
Important facts concerning marital assets
Florida, like the majority of states throughout the nation, governs its property laws in divorce under equitable division principles. Unlike the few states that use community property laws where all assets are split 50/50 in divorce, this state and most others leave it up to the court to determine a fair and agreeable distribution of all marital assets. Full disclosure is important, and both spouses must list all assets. The following list includes several types of marital assets of significant value that you might overlook:
- Did you and your spouse purchase season tickets for your favorite team? If you jointly own those tickets (meaning, they weren't part of a gift given to a specific spouse) it counts as a marital asset in divorce. The same goes for season tickets to the symphony or any other public event venue.
- Keep in mind, too, that the court considers investments you and your spouse made together during marriage, such as a timeshare condominium from which you draw income by renting to vacationers throughout the year, a marital asset.
- Do you and your spouse own life insurance? If so, the cash value of your investment will be added into the value of your assets when the court divides your property in divorce.
- If you're expecting a nice bonus at work in the near future, don't count your eggs before they're hatched because monies therein will also count as jointly owned property in your divorce. In fact, some people run into trouble when their spouses attempt to hide marital assets by asking their employers to delay incentive and bonus pay until the court finalizes their divorces. (By the way, this is illegal.)
Other assets that are easy to overlook as you try to get a picture of net worth value in your divorce, include art collections, coin collections or other stored items of value (such as antiques) as well as any stock options, prepayments or over payments of expenses and tax refunds. In some situations, you may first have to seek a valuation of a particular asset to determine its actual worth at the time of your divorce.
Also, remember that from the court's standpoint, your debts count as part of your marital property, too, and the court will divide your debts equitably between you and your spouse in divorce. Many Florida residents turn to experienced family law attorneys to help them prepare for property division proceedings as well as to advocate on their behalves if problems arise.