Florida is an Equitable Distribution State. What Does That Mean?
One of the most difficult issues to mediate or for a judge to rule on is the division of assets and liabilities. In other words, how will marital monies, properties, businesses, and debts be divided between the two spouses? In some states, Oregon, Nevada, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Louisianna, all assets and liabilities coming under the heading of “marital” that are obtained since the marriage will be divided evenly or, as often termed, equally. These states are sometimes referred to as common property states. All the rest of the states (except Alaska, where a couple can decide which method to use), including Florida, divide assets and liabilities equitability which is perceived to be “fair” rather than “equal.” Trying to decide an equitable way to distribute marital assets and liabilities takes a great deal of compromise, give and take when trying to make a mediation work or trying to convince a judge who should get what and why.
Once an asset or liability has been assessed as marital, it will be valued and considered part of the equitable distribution process. Sometimes the asset or liability will be something such as a home, car, or boat, which can be sold and the proceeds divided evenly. However, this may not always be that simple as perhaps one of the spouses has been making all the payments on the asset in question with nonmarital funds. So to make the division equitable, the proceeds may be divided in a way to consider the person who has made all the payments. Another way equitable distribution is used can be to swap items or debt of approximately equal value, such as a washer and dryer set for one spouse and a large screen TV and speakers for the other spouse. One spouse may accept the payoff of a credit card in the same amount as another credit card to be paid off by the other spouse. If a couple can create a marital agreement during mediation, dividing assets and liabilities can be their way of thinking equitably. On the other hand, if the dissolution of marriage (divorce) proceeds to court, a judge will decide how assets and liabilities will be equitably divided. As can be imagined, no party receives everything he or she hoped for, but chances for greater success lie in a mediated settlement.
It is important to discuss with a Family Law attorney exactly what equitable distribution may look like for your particular situation. As pointed out, there are a number of tricky guidelines when determining what are nonmarital issues and what are marital issues. For persons living in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Orange, or Hillsborough Counties in Florida or New York or Washington DC, Family Law attorney Grand Gisondo is prepared to help. He has been successfully practicing Family Law for over a decade and has helped many clients through their divorce. To make it easier for a prospective client to understand the basics of a Florida divorce, Attorney Gisondo offers an initial, free, in-office consultation where he will meet with you personally. His office is located in Palm Beach Gardens and his office hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and for new clients on Saturdays from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM. You can call Attorney Gisondo’s office at (561) 530-4568 to make an appointment.