Articles Posted in Property Division

A few weeks ago a report came out that Dmitry Rybolovlev, one of the 100 richest people in the world, had been accused of hiding close to $100 million dollars during his divorce. If you are in a situation involving such incredible wealth, you should seriously consider a prenuptial agreement, which a Jacksonville, Florida Family Law Attorney or a Jacksonville, Florida Asset Protection Attorney can help draw up for you.

However, even if you are not on the Forbe’s richest list, you obviously do not want your spouse to hide assets during your divorce. This can negatively affect division of other assets, which would not be good for you. Plus, this would be fraudulent to the court. But how do you know when your spouse is hiding assets? A recent Forbes article outlines some of the red flags. Many of the tips are somewhat obvious, but may be difficult to see unless you are looking at it from an outside prospective. Here are some tips and warnings to look for:

If your spouse maintains total control of your joint bank account information, make sure you keep track of the bank statements. Most banks have online services, so you should be able to monitor it from there. If your spouse denies you access to the password, but your name is nevertheless on the account, go to your bank and ask for a statement.

mortgage.jpgAs an Orange Park Divorce Lawyer I often hear client’s ask, “If my spouse gets to keep the house in the divorce, can I still be held responsible for the mortgage?” The short answer to this question is, unfortunately, yes. If, in a divorce, one party is granted sole exclusive use and possession of the former marital home the other party could still be held liable in the event of a default on the mortgage.

Thus, even if the former marital home is deeded to one party the other party’s name is still on the mortgage and can still be held responsible. If the party with possession of the home fails to pay the mortgage, the bank has the option to come after the other party.

During the divorce proceedings the party without the home can ask for their name to be removed but this is unlikely to occur. Also, the Court can order the party with possession of the home to try and refinance to get the other party’s name off the mortgage, but in todays market this is rarely successful.

Whether or not an asset is “marital” or “nonmarital” is often a key issue in a divorce. Marital assets are generally considered jointly owned by both husband and wife, and it is usually up to the court to decide how those assets will be distributed. Nonmarital assets, however, are considered owned by only one of the spouses and are generally free from distribution in a divorce. You should be aware that liabilities –debts– are treated the same way as assets.

Florida Statute 61.075 addresses this issue and defines marital and nonmarital assets. Marital assets include assets acquired during the marriage, the increase in value of nonmarital assets (if the increase is the result of contribution from both spouses), interspousal gifts during the marriage, and all benefits accrued during the marriage, such as retirement funds, pension, profit sharing, and insurance plans.

Nonmarital assets include assets acquired prior to the marriage, assets acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance, assets excluded from being considered marital by written agreement (such as a prenuptial agreement), and income derived from nonmarital assets, unless the income was “treated, used, or relied upon by the parties as a marital asset.”

Thumbnail image for proposal.jpegThere are two situations where you might like to get back the rather expensive ring you bought your bride before your relationship ended: a broken-off engagement or a divorce. The answer to “who gets the ring?” is different in each situation.

Broken-Off Engagement: engagement rings are considered “conditional gifts.” In other words, the gift becomes final upon the condition that your bride eventually marries you. Prior to the vows, however, that condition has not been completed, so you can still revoke the gift. So, if the engagement is called off, you should legally be able to get back the ring.

Divorce: after the vows are said and the marriage license is signed, the condition of that conditional gift has been fulfilled. The ring is now considered a gift. Further, because it is a gift, it is a nonmarital asset for distribution purposes if the two of you ever get divorced. That means that the ring’s value will likely not be split between the two of you during a divorce. Instead, it belongs to your spouse. This was true even in a case (Randall v. Randall) where the ring was the former husband’s family heirloom.

401k.jpgBecause the beneficiary designation was never updated post divorce finalization, the Supreme Court of Florida has ruled a former spouse still entitled to death benefits payable from a retirement plan. Unambiguous language in the Marital Settlement Agreement can avoid a beneficiary designation even where a spouse has neglected to remove their now ex-spouse.

However, some designations can be revised prior to a divorce, but Federal law does not allow the changing of a beneficiary designation on some financial plans without written spousal consent, which is difficult to get when something like a 401(k) is in dispute. This spousal consent rule can create a small hurdle; most beneficiary designations can be changed and should be as soon as possible after a divorce.

An experienced Florida Family Law Attorney should be sure to ask you about beneficiary designations before finalizing a divorce. Be sure to ask the attorney working on your divorce if you are unsure about certain designations. If you are not currently working with an attorney, the most advisable practice is to secure an experienced Jacksonville Family Law Attorney as soon as possible.

mortgage.jpgThe short answer to this question is, unfortunately yes. If, in a divorce, one party is granted sole exclusive use and possession of the former marital home the other party could still be held responsible in the event of a default on the mortgage.

Thus, even if the former marital home is deeded to one party the other party’s name is still on the mortgage and can still be held responsible. If the party with possession of the home fails to pay the mortgage, the bank has the option to come after the other party.

During the divorce proceedings the party without the home can ask for their name to be removed but this is likely not to occur. Also, the Court can order the party with possession of the home to try and refinance to get the other party’s name off the mortgage, but in todays market this is not a likely solution.

frank mccourt.jpgThe Daily Pitch is reporting that Frank and Jamie McCourt have reached a divorce agreement that will give Frank McCourt, the Los Angeles Dodgers Owner, sole control over the Dodgers. Jamie McCourt, on the other hand, will be leaving the marriage with a hefty $130 million in her pocket. The settlement is believed to be the costliest divorce in California history.

As a Jacksonville Divorce Attorney, I can’t help but think of how less costly the McCourt’s divorce could have been had they worked together and agreed to settle nearly two years ago. In Jacksonville, I see clients argue over the most insignificant things because they are experiencing so many emotions due to the divorce. I can only assume that is what the McCourts did, except for on a much larger financial scale.

I personally tell my Jacksonville clients to look at the big picture and to try to take emotions out of the decision making as much as possible. This is often a difficult thing for clients to do, however; I know in the long run it is the best way to go about a divorce.

premarital agreement.jpgPremarital agreements in Florida are an important tool if you wish to keep your assets private during a marriage. While such agreements may never come into play if the marriage lasts, they can be incredibly important in the event of a divorce in Florida. Florida is one of the many states that allows premarital agreements. The agreement must be voluntary as it will not be considered enforceable if it was entered into due to fraud, duress, coercion, or overreaching. Additionally, the agreement must not be unconscionable. These are all issues that are decided by the court in the event the agreement is challenged. In fact, such agreements are challenged and often! If you are thinking about utilizing a premarital agreement in Florida in your marriage, or you wish to challenge a premarital agreement that you’ve already entered into, contact a Florida Family Law Attorney today.

images.jpgThe National Federation of Independent Business estimates that there are more than 1 million husband-and-wife business partnerships. Considering the divorce rate has remained relatively stable during the recession, it is only natural that some of those partnerships end in divorce. Almost all divorces can get tricky when it comes to dividing assets; however, co-ownership of a business makes the separation much more complicated.

Some simply decide to sell the business and split the assets. However, it is difficult to sell a small business, especially in the current economy. It is important to consider other options.

For example, you might consider a split of the business. This is generally possible only when you and your business partner have independent clients, such as a doctor’s office. Alternatively, the couple could remain in business as a partnership. This is difficult for obvious reasons. One way to reduce the possibility of making hasty decisions to spite the other is to bring in an independent board of directors. A more common solution is for one of the spouses to buy the other out. This requires a good accountant to help value the business.

438_divorce-assets-the-divorce-files-flash.jpgWhether or not an asset is “marital” or “nonmarital” is often a key issue in a divorce. Marital assets are generally considered jointly owned by both husband and wife, and it is usually up to the court to decide how those assets will be distributed. Nonmarital assets, however, are considered owned by only one of the spouses and are generally free from distribution in a divorce. You should be aware that liabilities –debts– are treated the same way as assets.

Florida Statute 61.075 addresses this issue and defines marital and nonmarital assets. Marital assets include assets acquired during the marriage, the increase in value of nonmarital assets (if the increase is the result of contribution from both spouses), interspousal gifts during the marriage, and all benefits accrued during the marriage, such as retirement funds, pension, profit sharing, and insurance plans.

Nonmarital assets include assets acquired prior to the marriage, assets acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance, assets excluded from being considered marital by written agreement (such as a prenuptial agreement), and income derived from nonmarital assets, unless the income was “treated, used, or relied upon by the parties as a marital asset.”

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