On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Equitable Distribution on Saturday, March 15, 2014.

In a Florida divorce we divide only the marital assets and debts. The process of dividing marital property starts with inventorying everything you acquired. Anything you brought into the marriage, anything inherited, and anything excluded by a prenuptial agreement, is generally not marital.

Hiding Assets

One of the worst thing you can do is hide assets. You may think you can get away with hiding assets, but keep in mind that we divorce attorneys are suspicious, and start with the assumption that assets are being hidden.

From the time you marry until the day your divorce is final you owe a “fiduciary duty.” If you violate this duty there can be legal consequences: a judge can order you to pay your spouse’s legal expenses, you could face an unequal distribution, and you will lose credibility with the judge.

Mediating

The best thing you can do for yourself is to try to settle your property division between the two of you, without mediators and out of court. But what if you can’t come to an agreement?

Hire a mediator to help resolve the tough issues that have kept you from agreeing with your spouse. Your attorney mediates cases very often, and he or she will try to select a mediator that they think can best help you settle your case. Since Florida requires mediation as part of the divorce process anyway, I frequently advise an early mediation – even before you file.

Don’t fight over ‘pots and pans’. No one wins if you end up in court arguing about who gets the Tupperware. Some things have emotional attachments, and try to decide before hand with your attorney what things are most important to you.

Going to Court

Martial property is divided according to Florida’s equitable distribution laws. Unlike courts in California and western states for instance, which are community property states, Florida is an equitable distribution state. In Florida, we start with the principle that marital property is divided equitably, not necessarily equally.

In Florida, a spouse’s financial contribution to the asset, or a spouse’s ability to support themselves post-divorce, or even infidelity can be taken into consideration when dividing property.

You should familiarize yourself with how Florida courts divide property. It will go a long way in helping you when trying to negotiate with your spouse. In fact, you should even consider reading up on Florida’s Chapter 61, the divorce statutes.

To summarize, try to work with your spouse, don’t squabble over the small stuff, don’t hide assets, and learn how Florida laws impact a judge’s decision if they have to make the call over how to divide your life.

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