Florida is an Equitable Distribution State. This means that in a Florida divorce, marital property will be divided in a way that the Judge believes is fair to both you and your spouse. This does not necessarily mean a 50/50 division as is the rule in community property states like California.
Marital Property and Nonmarital Property
An important issue to consider is what is not a marital asset. You or your spouse may have owned assets before your marriage which should not be shared after the divorce. Judges consider several factors when deciding what is not marital property and how to divide what is marital property. Attorney Mark Steinberg explains these factors in detail during his initial consultation with clients facing divorce.
If you or your spouse own a business (including professional associations and partnerships), determining what portion, if any, is a marital asset can make a significant difference in how other assets and liabilities are distributed. For businesses that were operated by both spouses during the marriage, the Court may have to decide which spouse should retain the business. Valuation is a complicated issue. When valuing a business for equitable distribution, the Court must calculate the fair market value of the business and take into consideration any enhancements to the business during the marriage and whether or not marital funds or efforts contributed to the enhancement of the value. Mark S. Steinberg, P.A. works with some of Miami’s finest forensic accountants who can value a business and testify in Court to their valuation.
A carefully negotiated settlement is the best way to avoid the financial and emotional costs of a contested divorce, but this is only possible to achieve when both parties are open with each other and are willing to cooperate and to negotiate in good faith. If you think your spouse is willing to negotiate a settlement, it is important to share that information during the initial consultation. A trial will be necessary when one spouse is not willing to negotiate or when negotiations prove unsuccessful. During a trial all of the details of your case, particularly the financial details and the history of your marriage and of your relationship with your children will be presented to the Judge who ultimately decides the outcome.
Marital Settlement Agreements
Marital Settlement Agreements are contracts created after careful negotiation between both spouses. A comprehensive agreement will resolve all of the issues and eliminate the need for a trial. Sometimes only some issues can be resolved by agreement. In those instances, it is beneficial to create a partial settlement agreement and only ask the Judge to decide the issues that could not be resolved. Resolving issues through a Marital Settlement Agreement rather than litigating in Court can save the parties both financially and emotionally. Often the agreement can only be reached with the assistance of a Family Law Mediator.
Mediation is required before a case can be set for trial. Prior to mediation, both parties should have produced documents reflecting their current financial situation. It is also essential that you have already communicated very clearly to your lawyer any concerns or goals you have related to your financial future and issues surrounding your children. Preparation is the key to ensuring that you are completely satisfied with any settlement reached. During mediation, an impartial third party will attempt to facilitate a compromise between the parties. The mediator is not a judge, and everything said in a mediation session is confidential and cannot be used at trial.
Collaborative Law Is a process to resolve Family Law disputes in a friendly manner. When parties choose to participate in a collaborative law divorce, they retain separate attorneys who agree not go to Court while they work toward reaching an agreement. All relevant information is voluntarily disclosed as the parties engage in an open and honest exchange of information. A series of informal discussions, settlement conferences, and meditations are utilized to reach a final resolution. If an agreement is not reached, both attorneys must withdraw and the parties must retain new lawyers.
If you think division of property will be an issue in your divorce and you want more information, call Mark S. Steinberg, P.A. at (305) 671-0015 or fill out the Contact Form to schedule a consultation.