Divorce can often times be a painful experience. Dividing up debts and assets acquired during the marriage can make the divorce process even more stressful and complicated. How do you begin this process?
According to The Florida Bar, this process can be broken down into seven basic steps.
- Determine the duration in which assets and liabilities can be classified as marital or non-marital.
- Classify the assets and liabilities as marital or non-marital.
- Set a date for which all assets and liabilities will be valued.
- Assign a value to each asset and liability.
- Distribute the parties marital assets and liabilities as equally as possible, unless there are additional factors to consider.
- Build a fair distribution award.
- Consider the possibility of alimony and whether or not it is applicable.
When setting a date for marital classification, determining the beginning of a marriage is relatively easy. However, determining the end of the marriage can be somewhat difficult. Does a marriage end when a divorce is finalized? Does a marriage end when one party files for divorce? Does a marriage end when the couple decides to separate? Generally speaking, when some sort of valid separation agreement has been filed, the court will determine the partnership as terminated.
If an asset or liability was acquired during the determined period, it is generally considered marital property, and therefore, subject to equal distribution amongst both parties. Parties can agree to exclude certain property from distribution. After it has been decided which assets or liabilities are considered marital property, it is important that they be evaluated by a third party to determine final value, including appreciation and depreciation. This is to ensure that property is divided as equally and fairly as possible amongst both parties.
Once value has been determined, the marital property must be distributed equally. There are some circumstances in which distribution may call for an unequal division. Factors that may contribute to this may include, but are not limited to:
- The contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contribution to care of any children and home
- The economic circumstances of both parties
- The duration of the relationship
After distribution has been determined, a system must be set in place for any payment required by the settlement. At this time, if distribution is considered unfair, the determination can be subject to review. This may occur if any applicable evidence is not presented or is not substantial enough but was used to determine the distribution to each party. Also, at this time the potential for alimony is considered.
If you are seeking counsel for a divorce, contact the Orlando family law attorneys of The Veliz Law Firm for a consultation.