JACKSONVILLE DIVISION OF MARITAL PROPERTY LAW FIRM SERVING, DUVAL, CLAY, NASSAU, ST. JOHNS, FLAGLER AND BAKER COUNTIES

Florida is an equitable distribution” jurisdiction.  What this means is that when a couple seeks to end their marriage through divorce, their property must be divided “equitably.”  Other states require a 50/50 division; “equitable” means what is fair in the eyes of a Florida family court judge.

The first step is to establish what assets are to be divided (the marital estate) versus what belongs to each person individually.  Once the marital estate is established, then comes the negotiation or litigation over how to divide it.

This can be more complicated than sounds; here is a brief list of some of the assets that are complicated to equitable divide:

  • Family business assets, interests in professional practices and partnerships, or other closely held business;
  • Division of pensions, retirement benefits and executive compensation packages, including those involving stock options or deferred payments;
  • Vacation real estate, investment properties, or interests in real estate investment trusts;
  • Interests in property affected by the terms of prenuptial agreements or post nuptial agreements;
  • Disputes as to the actual valuation of real estate or other property;
  • Appreciation of property during the marriage that was acquired by either spouse prior to their marriage;
  • Non-military spouse’s rights to veterans benefits, military pensions, or other assets and privileges under the Former Spouse’s Protection Act;
  • Property division problems complicated by a spouse’s concealment or non-disclosure of assets or by unusual financial behavior in the two years prior to filing for divorce.

Consider the following issues:

Business Valuation:

If you own part or all of a business, your spouse may have a right to a part of its value upon divorce.  What is its value?

Unlike publicly owned companies, a family-owned business’s value cannot be determined by the number of shares that you own and the currently traded price of these shares.  The market value may be determined in other ways; for example, by “book value.” Book value is the value of all the assets held by the company, less accumulated depreciation.

Another method to determine the value of the business in the “going concern” valuation.  Simply put, the value of the business is determined by the historic and current profitability of the company.

Even if it is determined that the business is not to be considered marital property and that the other spouse has no interest in the business, the valuation of the business is important as its valuation will be considered when the Court makes its determinations regarding child support and alimony.

Dealing with business valuation can be complex, depending on the size of the business.  At Daniel M. Copeland, Attorney at Law, P.A., we thoroughly understand business valuation and, when necessary, we utilize qualified experts such as accountants, forensic accountants and business brokers.  By thoroughly examining all aspects of the business, we are best prepared and have a heightened ability to determine the best course of action to pursue so that your interests are best protected and that we are able to achieve the best result possible for you.

Real Estate Valuation:

It is not uncommon for parties to acquire during the course of their marriage real estate other than the marital home.  They may have acquired rental properties, commercial properties, and/or vacation properties.

The first step in making a determination as to whether the properties are to be included in the marital estate is to determine how each property was acquired.  For example, the wife inherits her family’s lake house but keeps the property titled solely in her name and does not add her husband’s name to the deed. On the surface, it would appear that the lake house is a non-marital estate.  However, if during the course of her ownership during the parties’ marriage, marital funds were used over the years to pay property taxes, fund major maintenance, such as roof replacement; major improvements, such as room additions, etc., then while the lake house may not be fully determined to be a marital asset, the husband will have a claim against the property for the value of the improvements and major repairs to the lake house.

In order to effectively determine each spouse’s interest in the lake house, we will use reputable and experienced property appraisers, real estate brokers and general contractors, if necessary to determine an accurate valuation of the lake house.

Comingling of Assets:

For example: say the wife owned a small business prior to the parties getting married or held a substantial bank account.  If some of the income from the wife’s business or her bank account were diverted to purchase the marital home or other marital property, forensic accounting may be necessary to determine the parties’ respective interests in the wife’s business, marital home, other marital assets purchased with the wife’s funds, plus the respective amounts of appreciated value in each of these assets that belongs to each spouse.

At Daniel M. Copeland, Attorney at Law, P.A., we have established long-term relationships with the various professionals necessary to accurately determine the value of the various types of assets parties typically acquire during their marriage.

To set up your free telephone consultation, contact us at (904) 482-0616, or fill out the email contact below.

Please let us know how we can help you.

Please note, all information contained herein is provided for general informational purposes only.  The information herein is not intended as legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Different factual scenarios may yield different results.  In addition, several other factors must be considered in each individual case, and those factors can only be ascertained by speaking directly with an attorney.  

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Address

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