The legal term for dividing marital property and debt is “equitable distribution.” Equitable distribution requires identifying all assets and debts of the spouses and categorizing them as either marital or non-marital. A determination is then made as to the value of the marital assets and debts, which are ultimately divided between the divorcing spouses.
Marital assets can may include real estate, cars, bank accounts, pensions, businesses, and much more. John F. Schutz, P.L. has a successful history of tracking down marital assets – which is particularly helpful when clients are unaware of their spouse’s true net worth.
We are also experts in complex valuation issues and the distribution of business assets – from small family-run businesses to international corporations.
Changes in property ownership as a result of divorce can have considerable tax implications. Many West Palm Beach divorce lawyers are unfamiliar with the tax consequences of divorce. John F. Schutz, P.L. will advise you on your personal tax consequences, and even provide you an analysis of the fees charged for such advice and services (which may be tax deductible).
What are marital assets and liabilities?
Marital assets and liabilities include:
- Assets acquired and liabilities incurred during the marriage, individually by either spouse or jointly by them.
- The enhancement in value and appreciation of nonmarital assets resulting either 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.
- Gifts given from one spouse to another.
- 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.
Does equitable distribution imply marital assets and debts will be divided equally?
Court proceedings start with the premise that marital assets will be divided equally. But in fact, the law does not require equal division of marital assets. Upon consideration of 10 different factors, the court may (and often does) order an unequal or skewed distribution. These factors include things such as the contribution each spouse makes to the marriage (including the care of the children as a homemaker), length of marriage and the intentional waste of marital asstes.
What if my spouse has wasted our marital assets?
In developing an equitable distribution schedule, the Court will take into consideration any dissipation of marital assets and, if necessary, award unequal distribution in favor of the non-offending spouse.
What happens to my non-marital assets?
When considering the equitable distribution of assets, the Court will set apart to each party their respective non-marital assets and liabilities. However, it is your burden to prove that an asset or liability is non-marital. Even if your non-marital assets are set aside, the court may consider those assets when awarding attorney fees, alimony and child support.
What is the cut-off date for determining what is a marital asset and liability?
Absent the parties being in agreement to some other date, the Court is bound to determine the cut-off of martial assets and liabilities as of the date of filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage.
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