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Equitable Division of Marital Assets in Boca Raton Divorce

Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that when deciding how marital assets and debts should be divided in a divorce, the court presumes that an equal distribution is the fairest option. But equitable distribution doesn’t always mean equal. The overriding consideration in property distribution is fairness, and the court can order an unequal division of assets if, given the circumstances, that would be fairest.

When considering making an unequal distribution, the court must take into account the following factors:

  • Contribution of each spouse to the marriage, including the care and education of children or services as a homemaker;
  • Economic circumstances of each party;
  • Length of the marriage;
  • Interruption of either party’s career or education in favor of the marriage, or one spouse’s contribution to the other’s career or education;
  • Desire to retain an asset intact and free from claim or interference by the other party;
  • Each spouse’s contribution to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or debt to marital and nonmarital assets;
  • Desirability of keeping family home as a residence, and the ability to do while maintaining fairness between the parties;
  • Whether either party has intentionally dissipated, wasted, depleted or destroyed marital assets after the divorce was filed or in the prior two years; and
  • Other factors that would “do equity and justice between the parties.”

Regardless of the percentage of the marital assets the court decides each party is entitled to receive, equitable distribution does not require that each individual asset be split according to that percentage. For some assets, such a split is easy – checking and savings accounts, for example, can easily be divided. Other assets, like vehicles and the family home, cannot be easily shared between the parties. If the couple agrees to sell such items, the distribution is easy, as each party will walk away with cash equal to their share of the marital estate.

But what if each party wants to retain a specific asset? That’s where you and your attorney can get creative with the division of assets.

For the ease of discussion, assume that the parties agree that a 50-50 split of their $750,000 marital estate is the most equitable. The marital assets include the following:

  • Family home                                             $325,000
  • Vehicle one                                                $30,000
  • Vehicle two                                                $12,500
  • Boat                                                            $45,000         
  • Investment account                                $100,000
  • Checking/savings account                      $75,000
  • Pension                                                       $162,500

The wife wants to keep the family home. The couple has two young children, and she feels that selling the home would be too much of a disruption for them. A 50-50 split means each spouse is entitled to $375,000. The wife also drives the more expensive vehicle. Taking the home and the vehicle would give her $355,000; $20,000 from the savings account would put her at her share of the estate, but leave her with little safety net. It would also leave her with no right to her share of the husband’s pension.

So what are her options?

Give up the other assets. If the wife is employed and makes a good living, she may be willing to take the home, vehicle and a small portion of the cash. That may not be the most financially smart option, but it may be a risk some people are willing to take. This option would be a safer one if the wife had substantial separate assets to help support her and the children, such as an investment account or retirement plan she had prior to entering the marriage, or if she received a large inheritance or gift during the marriage.

Future division of home sale. A more attractive option in this case is to split the marital estate equally, just not all at once. For example, the wife would receive the house, in addition to one-half of the remaining assets, contingent on her paying the husband one-half of the proceeds when she sells the house, which could be no later than the youngest child graduating from high school. At that time, she would pay the husband one-half of the home’s present value, plus interest. She would also be solely responsible for the maintenance and upkeep, which is why the husband would not be entitled to any appreciation on the home’s sale.

Boca Raton Division of Assets Attorney

Divorce is an emotional experience, and figuring out the division of assets can add to that stress. That’s why you should contact the Boca Raton divorce attorneys at Schwartz | White. Our attorneys have more than 50 years’ combined experiencing handling contested and uncontested divorces, including those with high-net worth. We are sensitive to short and long-term needs of our clients and will work with you to come up with creative solutions for the division of assets that is both equitable and takes into consideration the real needs of both parties. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment to speak with one of our divorce attorneys.

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