Boynton Beach Equitable Distribution Lawyer
Equitable distribution, also known as property division, refers to the division and distribution of marital assets and liabilities between the parties in a divorce. According to Florida law, assets and debts must be distributed in a fair or equitable manner, which may or may not mean an equal split depending on the circumstances. After even the shortest marriage, the couple has likely accumulated marital assets and debts that must be divided, and the longer the marriage or the more wealth accumulated, the more complex and important the property division becomes. The Law Office of Taryn G. Sinatra, P.A., can provide invaluable guidance and support throughout this process, whether helping you and your spouse reach a mutually satisfactory property settlement agreement or litigating contested matters in court skillfully and effectively. Our Florida Bar Board-Certified Family Law Specialist and her team possess a deep understanding of Florida equitable distribution law and over a decade of experience resolving such matters inside and outside of court. Contact our experienced and dedicated Boynton Beach equitable distribution lawyers today.
The Process of Equitable Distribution in Florida and How Our Boynton Beach Divorce Lawyers Can Help
Equitable distribution is a four-step process in Florida, and our divorce law attorneys can provide critical professional assistance at every step. The steps required to divide marital property include:
- Locating and identifying every asset and debt
- Classifying every asset and liability as either marital or nonmarital property
- Assigning an accurate value to every marital asset and debt
- Distributing each asset and liability to one spouse or the other
The Law Office of Taryn G. Sinatra, P.A., works with other experts as needed to ensure this process is conducted fairly and accurately, including forensic accountants, tax experts, business valuation experts, property appraisers, actuaries and others. Expert assistance is often needed to accurately value marital assets and debts, to locate assets that might be hidden, or to trace assets back to their source to determine whether they are properly characterized as marital or nonmarital.
Identifying Marital Assets and Liabilities
Generally speaking, marital assets and liabilities are all assets and liabilities acquired or incurred during the marriage whether by either spouse individually or jointly. Marital property can also include:
- The enhancement in value and appreciation of nonmarital assets resulting from the efforts of either party during the marriage or from the contribution to or expenditure thereon of marital funds or other forms of marital assets, or both.
- The paydown of principal of a note and mortgage secured by nonmarital real property and a portion of any passive appreciation in the property, if the note and mortgage secured by the property are paid down from marital funds during the marriage.
- Interspousal gifts during the marriage.
- All vested and nonvested benefits, rights, and funds accrued during the marriage in retirement, pension, profit-sharing, annuity, deferred compensation, and insurance plans and programs.
- All real property held by the parties as tenants by the entireties, whether acquired prior to or during the marriage
- All personal property titled jointly by the parties as tenants by the entireties, whether acquired prior to or during the marriage
Nonmarital assets and liabilities, meanwhile, include:
- Assets acquired and liabilities incurred by either party prior to the marriage, and assets acquired and liabilities incurred in exchange for such assets and liabilities;
- Assets acquired separately by either party by noninterspousal gift, bequest, devise, or descent, and assets acquired in exchange for such assets;
- All income derived from nonmarital assets during the marriage unless the income was treated, used, or relied upon by the parties as a marital asset;
- Assets and liabilities excluded from marital assets and liabilities by valid written agreement of the parties, and assets acquired and liabilities incurred in exchange for such assets and liabilities; and
- Any liability incurred by forgery or unauthorized signature of one spouse signing the name of the other spouse.
Properly identifying marital and nonmarital assets and liabilities can be a complex undertaking, and it can be made even more complex if the parties changed the character of property by the way they used it during the marriage.
Factors That Could Lead to an Unequal Distribution
Courts in the property division process start from the premise that the distribution should be equal, but the judge has the discretion to make an unequal distribution when convinced it would be justified to do so. Judges are directed to consider “all relevant factors” in making this determination, including the following factors specifically:
- The contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as homemaker.
- The economic circumstances of the parties.
- The duration of the marriage.
- Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party.
- The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other spouse.
- The desirability of retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, corporation, or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party.
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the nonmarital assets of the parties.
- The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent child of the marriage, or any other party, when it would be equitable to do so, it is in the best interest of the child or that party, and it is financially feasible for the parties to maintain the residence until the child is emancipated or until exclusive possession is otherwise terminated by a court of competent jurisdiction. In making this determination, the court shall first determine if it would be in the best interest of the dependent child to remain in the marital home; and, if not, whether other equities would be served by giving any other party exclusive use and possession of the marital home.
- The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition or within two years prior to the filing of the petition.
- Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
Our team possesses a thorough understanding of these factors and will craft a persuasive argument on your behalf when you are seeking or opposing an unequal distribution or to protect the property most important to you.
Contact the Law Office of Taryn G. Sinatra, P.A., Today
Equitable distribution is often one of the most important, vigorously contested, and complex areas of a divorce case. Let the family law experts at the Law Office of Taryn G. Sinatra, P.A., guide you skillfully through the process to ensure your rights and best interests are protected. Call our Boynton Beach equitable distribution lawyers today.