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Equitable Distribution for the 99 Percent


Celebrity divorce is its own subgenre of journalism, but sometimes the divorce cases of people who are not celebrities also make news headlines.  If the parties are not known for their role in cinema, sports, music, or reality TV and are not related to the monarchy of any country, then their divorce disputes are not usually newsworthy unless the assets over which they are feuding are especially valuable.  As Florida cases, though, you have heard about Phil Collins and his ex-wife Orianne fighting over which one can stay in their Miami mansion now that Orianne has remarried.  You have probably also heard of Mark Flood and Blake Taylor, whose divorce has been going on since forever, even though you might not know their names; Blake is requesting permanent alimony, while Mark argues that, not only should Blake not get permanent alimony, but that permanent alimony should be abolished altogether.  Divorce cases can be complex for the rest of us, too.  Even if your marital property does not include multiple residences and enough money for the couple to survive on one income throughout the duration of the marriage and beyond, there can still be disputes over how to divide certain assets and over which assets are divisible.  A South Florida divorce lawyer can help you achieve equitable distribution of your marital assets, even if those assets seem like chump change compared to what you read about on the society page.

Determining the Portion of Home Equity and Investment Accounts That Are Marital

Amy and Chris were married from 2000 and 2005 and did not have children together.  Chris worked for a government agency and had worked there since before he married Amy; while the appeals court’s decision does not mention Amy’s employment history, one can infer that, during her marriage to Chris, she earned less than he did, especially since the court ordered Christ to pay temporary alimony during the divorce proceedings and bridge-the-gap alimony after the divorce became final.  Chris appealed various aspects of the trial court’s decision, specifically about assets of modest value which Chris claimed as separate property and Amy claimed as marital property.  The appeals court ruled on them as follows:

  • Home equity- Chris purchased the marital home before marrying Amy, and he continued to pay down the mortgage during the marriage. In most cases, you can determine how much of the home equity is marital simply by subtracting the outstanding principal balance on the mortgage at the time of the divorce from the balance at the time of the wedding.  For Amy and Chris, though, things were more complicated.  During the marriage, they refinanced their house, and Chris used the money to pay off a condo in Illinois that Chris owned and in which his elderly, disabled father resided.  The issue was so complex that the appeals court remanded it to the trial court, noting that a forensic accountant’s services were necessary.
  • Retirement account – As a federal employee, Chris had a Thrift Savings Plan, to which he contributed during the marriage. The contributions he made during the marriage and their appreciation were marital property.
  • Antique car or clunker? – Chris owned a 1940 Pontiac, a gift from his grandfather. A family friend in Indiana was storing the car, which Chris had not seen since 2001.  Amy claimed that the car was a nonmarital asset worth $15,000, while Chris claimed that its value was negligible, and the court sided with Chris.
  • Sister’s paintings – In the marital home were eight paintings painted by Chris’s sister and given as gifts. Chris argued that seven of the paintings were gifts just for him while one was for the couple, while Amy argued that three paintings belonged to Chris alone while fived belonged to the couple.  The parties agreed that Amy would have copies made of the paintings she wanted, while Chris would keep the originals.  They disagreed about the value of the paintings and the cost of copying them.

Contact Us Today for Help

A Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help you equitably distribute gifts the sentimental value of which exceeds their resale value.  Contact Schwartz | White for a consultation.



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