Equitable distribution of assets and liabilities can be the most difficult part of a divorce case, especially if there is a family owned business. Additionally, if the parties have accumulated substantial assets including real estate, brokerage accounts and retirement accounts, the divorce proceeding becomes exponentially more difficult.
Aside from dividing marital property, it is necessary for the court to determine what marital assets exist and what assets were acquired by either party prior to the marriage. Non marital property exists if the assets were acquired prior to the marriage and not commingled. This type of property is not subject to equitable distribution. Individuals must be careful not to spoil nonmarital assets through the process of commingling. For example, if a bank account is originally a nonmarital asset, but during the marriage money is deposited into it or withdrawn from it, the account could be considered marital property.
The importance of the division of marital property cannot be overstated, because, unlike child support payments, it is next to impossible to modify a property settlement after the divorce decree is entered. Absent a showing of fraud, something that may be quite difficult to demonstrate, a court will not permit a change in the division of marital assets.
Contact our offices to schedule an initial consultation at a discounted rate, or call 954-753-1003. We will discuss the commingling of assets, the division of your property and how we can protect your interests, including how to properly place a value upon your family owned business.
A Broward County Attorney Experienced at Valuing and Dividing Real Estate
Until recently, dividing real estate was not a complicated matter. Generally speaking, the parties purchased real estate during the course of their marriage and during their divorce, they would sell it and divide the proceeds and move on.
In today's real estate market, parties are finding they cannot sell their homes, and in many circumstances, they have negative equity in their homes. In other words, they owe more money on their house than it is worth. Sometimes the parties agree to a "scorched earth" policy, where they decide they will not struggle to make the mortgage payment and live in their home until such a time they are forced to leave by the lender. They save as much during that time as possible, so they can move out when the bank forecloses. This of course destroys both parties credit, but that might be inevitable.
Many parties own unimproved lots, which they cannot sell because no one is interested in buying; often the parties agree to own them as tenants in common, and they each will pay 50 percent of the taxes until such a time as they can sell it.
Marital Liabilities and Debts — Who Pays the Credit Card Bills?
It is also important to account for all the assets and debts of a marriage. Credit card debt and other loans can be divided between the parties, but if you are a co-signer on any account and your ex-spouse stops making payments, the creditor will expect you to begin making payments. It is more cost-effective to work out all the details of these matters now, saving yourself from having to sue your ex-spouse to enforce the settlement agreement.
Credit card debt can become a significant issue during your divorce. We have helped numerous clients through debt division issues and can explain what options are best for you depending on your unique situation.
Complex Property Division
At the Law Offices of Mark Abzug, P.A., we provide legal services to divorcing couples facing complex property division. We have experience helping clients in the division of the following assets:
- Businesses : Valuing a family business can be a complicated process. Experts may be utilized to first determine the fair market value (FMV) of the company. Then the business can either be sold or one party can buy out the interest of the other individual. It is possible, but rare, for the parties to continue to own the business as partners.
- Real estate : When spouses own one or more parcels of property, division can be difficult if they have declined in value. Many people are emotionally connected to their homes, adding to the complexity of the situation.
- Financial accounts : The division of brokerage, bank, retirement, investment and other financial accounts can be difficult, especially when they may be difficult to value.
Partial Equitable Distribution
Florida is an equitable distribution state, meaning that property is not divided 50/50, but rather based on each spouse's specific needs and contributions during the marriage. However, there is a presumption that the assets will be divided equitably. The court may deviate on the distribution amounts based on the facts and circumstances of the case. A new law now allows for the partial equitable distribution of property, which allows the courts to assign the division of certain marital assets before the case is finalized. This will allow divorcing couples to gain access to their assets at an earlier point in their case.
Contact a Complex Property Division Lawyer Today
For property division and divorce services throughout Broward County, contact our law offices by calling 954-753-1003. Consultations at a discounted rate are available to discuss your issues regarding upside-down real estate or your distressed real estate matters, as well as all other property division concerns.