Equitable Distribution Attorneys
In almost every divorce case, it will be necessary to distribute assets and debts. There is a presumption under Florida law that marital assets and debts are distributed equal. While the idea of separating and distributing assets and debts seems simple, it may be complex depending on the circumstances of your case.
Marital Asset Distribution Attorneys
One issue the parties must deal with is determining whether an asset or debt should be classified as marital or non-marital. An example of a non-marital asset is an asset that was acquired prior to the marriage or an asset that was received by only one party through inheritance. However, even an asset that is non-marital may become marital through “commingling” the asset with marital funds or jointly titling the asset with the other person. Sometimes the issue of whether an asset or debt is marital or non-marital is not clear and must be resolved by the Court.
Another potential issue with the distribution of assets and debts is valuation. Some assets are easy to value, such as a bank account. Other issues are not easy to value, including a pension or small business. In order to get a value for some assets, it may be necessary to hire a valuation expert. Our divorce attorneys are well versed in the issue of valuation and when/how to use an expert, if necessary. It is important to note that it is the party’s responsibility to value an asset at trial and not the court’s responsibility. Therefore, if you fail to give the judge a value at trial, it could significantly prejudice your case.
Valuing An Asset
When an asset is valued different at the date of filing than it is at the time of trial, the parties may argue about which valuation date the judge should use before distributing that asset to one of the parties. The depletion of an asset may be due to market fluctuation which is not normally attributable to either party or the depletion of an asset may be due to intentional depletion by one party. The judge will consider each asset and decide the valuation date and value the asset before distributing that asset to one party or the other.
A party may argue that there should be an unequal distribution of marital assets or debts, which is permitted under limited circumstances. Florida law provides that an unequal distribution of assets/debts may occur based on a list of enumerated factors. However, practically speaking, it is difficult to get an unequal distribution of assets or debts and you should speak to your attorney about this possibility if you believe it may pertain to your case.
While distributing assets and debts sounds simple, it may be one of the most complex issues in a divorce case. It is important to hire a knowledgeable family law attorney to help navigate the potential issues in your case. Contact one of our attorneys for a free initial consultation.