Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that all property that is considered “marital property” is to be equally divided between the two parties in divorce. In order to ensure that your pre-marital or “separate” property is not divided and to ensure that you receive an equal dividend of your marital property, you need a expert divorce attorney by your side, especially if your live in Belleair, the Beaches, or Palm Harbor.
The issue of equitable distribution is getting more and more complicated.
Did you know that even if you owned your home before you got married and you left it titled in your name only, that your spouse may have a claim to the equity in that house. That is the effect of the case of Kaaa v. Kaaa, (Florida Supreme Court, 2010). The full impact of this case is still being felt in numerous cases in the Second District of Florida, including cases in Clearwater, East Lake, New Port Richey, Tampa and St. Petersburg.
You may also not know about the case of Roth v. Roth, from the Second District Court of Appeals, decided in 2008. Under the ruling in Roth, if assets are spent on living expenses, litigation cost and attorney’s fees, or on other legitimate marital expenses then the Court cannot distribute any of those funds, despite the fact that your spouse was the only one who benefits from those expenditures. You know that big tax refund you thought your spouse received, well if your spouse used it to pay their attorney’s fees, you are not entitled to your half anymore because it’s been spent. Needless to say the Roth case requires some planning and, maybe, the freezing of assets to prevent this kind of depletion of the marital estate.
Here’s another complication that is interesting to many people. Did you know that if you have “unvested stock options” or “pension rights” that any part of were earned during the marriage, they are subject to equitable distribution – even though they have not yet vested at all.
You may have a home, retirement accounts – an IRA or 401-K, you may have a 403-B or a closely held corporation, or a professional practice. Did you know that the student loans (acquired during the marriage) to become a Doctor are marital debts subject to distribution but that your Medical Degree has no value as an asset? Absolutely true.
Each different type of asset has different rules and different tax implications. They also have different values. For example, $100,000 of equity in a home is not of the same value as $100,000 in a 401-K because the money in the 401-K is subject to taxation and the equity in the home probably is not.
And then, there’s all those rules about when one party or the other is entitled to an unequal distribution. The Court has 10 factors to consider when determining the issue of an unequal distribution. These factors range from the contribution of each spouse to the marriage to the intentional dissipation, waste, depletion or destruction of marital assets. And, of course, there’s the lawyers favorite factor: “any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.” Needless to say that factor along can require a trial.
Given the complexity of the statutes on equitable distributions and the increase in complexity that results after adding in the impact of the case law, if you have any sort of significant assets, you need an expert in Marital and Family Law to represent you in your case.
Not only an expert in divorce law, but an attorney who understand complex financial issues and reports, and an attorney who understands the potential tax issues that may arise from an equitable distribution scheme.
Our attorney, Gary E. Williams, is Board Certified as an expert in Marital and Family Law. He is also a Board Certified Advocate as designated by the National Board of Trial Advocates. Beyond those expert designations, Gary is also a Divorce Financial Analyst, as recognized by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts and he has an MBA and a BA in Business. When it comes to financial issues he has excellent credentials, education and experience. Why would you want someone who does not have those credentials representing you in your divorce.
Contact a Expert in Equitable Distribution in Palm Harbor, Belleair, the Beaches or elsewhere
Our expert attorney, Gary E. Williams of The Law Firm for Family Law has handled more than 1,800 family law cases over the years. He specializes in practicing marital and family law and he strives to provide a level of client care that few can match. Our expert give personal attention to each client and will provide assertive and aggressive representation if necessary. In addition, Gary E. Williams is a certified divorce financial analyst who can provide insight into taxes, pensions, business valuations, and other important factors that may play into your equitable distribution. Contact our firm today for more information! You can call for your free initial consultation too – 727-531-8737