Articles Posted in Equitable Distribution

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Engagement and wedding rings are often an important symbol of a marriage. While these items often lose meaning after a married couple decides to file for divorce, they are often valuable pieces of property and each spouse may wonder who gets to keep the rings after the separation is finalized The answer to this question will depend on the particular circumstances surrounding your divorce, and an experienced attorney can better advise you after learning the specific details of your situation.

Are rings non-marital or marital property?

Rings are property just like a home, assets, furniture, or other valuables. Under most circumstances in Florida, each spouse is able to keep his or her own belongings brought into the marriage. Such belongings are referred to as non-marital or separate property. Florida divorce laws, however, require that all marital property be equitably divided between the two spouses. Equitable does not mean equal, and courts will take many different factors into consideration in deciding how to divide property.

In order to help determine what happens to engagement and wedding rings, a court must first determine whether each is non-marital or marital property. First, an engagement ring is generally given to a bride-to-be months before the marriage, thus she owns the ring while she is still single. Even though the future groom purchased the ring, the future bride takes ownership when she receives it as a gift. Therefore, an engagement ring is generally considered separate property and the bride tends to keep the engagement ring.

On the other hand, wedding rings are exchanged at the marriage ceremony, so Florida courts generally consider these rings to be marital property. For this reason, the value of the wedding rings would need to be equitably divided, just like any other piece of jewelry or property the couple acquired during the marriage.

Coming to an Agreement with Your Spouse

In many cases, divorcing couples are able to work together to decide how to divide marital property so that the court does not have to intervene. In these situations, the couple may acknowledge that each spouse should keep their own wedding rings, regardless of the value. This type of situation is almost always preferable as each spouse’s feelings may be better respected and they will be able to do what they wish with their own wedding rings.

Even if you and your spouse cannot immediately agree on issues such as property division, an experienced attorney has many options to help you come to a settlement agreement, including mediation, negotiation, or arbitration.

Contact an Experienced Boca Raton Divorce Attorney for Help Today

Engagement and wedding rings are likely only one piece of a substantial amount of property that couples will need to divide equitably in a divorce. In order to ensure that you receive the best deal in your divorce possible, you should always contact the office of experienced divorce lawyer Alan R. Burton in Boca Raton. Mr. Burton is committed to helping divorcing couples come to satisfying and efficient resolutions, so call today to discuss your case.

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In any Florida divorce that involves any type of financial issues such as property division, debt division, child support, and more, each spouse is required to disclose certain information regarding their finances to the other spouse. This trading of information is referred to as Mandatory Disclosure and is required by the Florida Family Courts Rule of Procedure 12.285.

In accordance with Mandatory Disclosure Rules, both spouses must submit the following:

  •         A financial affidavit using a particular long form for income over $50,000 or another short form for income under $50,000. The information on these forms includes a detailed breakdown of your gross monthly income, monthly deductions, expenses, liabilities/debts, and assets.
  •         Three years’ worth of personal federal, state, and personal property tax returns.
  •         Three years’ worth of corporate or other business tax returns if applicable.
  •         Evidence of income for the past three months, such as pay stubs.
  •         Leases, promissory notes, or deeds in which the spouse has or recently had an ownership interest.
  •         Any loan or credit applications prepared within 12 months.
  •         Three months of statements for any credit cards, loans, leases, or other types of debt.
  •         Certain number of account statements for all checking accounts, savings accounts, certificates of deposit, money market accounts, brokerage accounts, and more.
  •         All life, health, or dental insurance policies covering you, your spouse, or any dependent children.
  •         Statements for all retirement accounts including pensions, 401(k), IRA, 403(b), and more.
  •         Any court orders for current child or spousal support obligations.

In addition to the above information, if you or your spouse is claiming that certain property is nonmarital and thus not subject to equitable distribution, evidence supporting that claim must be submitted as part of the mandatory disclosures. Also, a spouse must submit any premarital agreements they claim are will come into play in the divorce.

While it may seem daunting to have to compile and disclose all of the above financial information, your spouse must also do the same. These Mandatory Disclosures ensure that your spouse is not lying about his or her financial situation in order to avoid paying certain support or to influence a property division determination. Such disclosures will give both sides a clear view of the whole financial picture of the marriage, which can help ensure that any division or support decisions are fair.

There are certain situations in which Mandatory Disclosures may be waived, including simplified divorces and collaborative divorce proceedings. A financial affidavit may still be required in those situations, though the additional paperwork may not be necessary depending on your situation.

A Boca Raton Divorce Attorney Can Assist You

You always want to make sure to give an accurate picture of your situation in Mandatory Disclosures to ensure that you receive the property and support that you deserve in your divorce. Additionally, correctly reporting all of your liabilities may help make sure the court does not require you to pay more support than you can afford. Alan R. Burton is an experienced divorce attorney in Boca Raton who can help you through every step of the divorce process and make sure your rights are protected. Contact our office today for a free consultation.

 

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Many divorces involve heated custody battles regarding time-sharing with the children between the two parents. Florida law presumes that sharing time and fostering a relationship with both parents is in the best interest of the children, unless sufficient evidence is presented to the contrary. However, courts in Florida are significantly less concerned with the well-being of “children” of the furrier variety—namely pets, such as dogs and cats.

Dogs and cats often have very close relationships with their owners, much like a parent-child relationship. Often, couples who do not have children consider themselves parents of their pets. Therefore, if a couple divorces, the question often arises: How is time with the pet shared? While some states have laws regarding time-sharing of pets, Florida does not have any laws specifically addressing this issue.

Florida Courts Not Very Concerned About Pet Time-Sharing Determinations

In the 1990s, one Florida couple became involved in a fierce battle over the custody of their dog in the case of Bennett v. Bennett. The court gave the husband primary custody with visitation rights to the wife, however both parties filed numerous motions for modifications of the custody arrangements and took up a great amount of time in court. Finally, a Florida Court of Appeals decided that it is not a job for the courts to spend time deciding custody disputes over pets. The appellate court stated that courts have a difficult enough time resolving custody matters involving children, and they should not waste resources regarding pets. Instead, the decision stated courts should treat pets like any other type of marital property and divide ownership equitably.

Pets Often Treated as Property

Because Florida courts will generally not make pet custody decisions, pets are treated like marital property in a divorce. Because marital property is equitably divided between the spouses according to state law, the pet usually ends up solely with one spouse or the other. Since both spouses may have equally close relationships with a pet, they may each be willing to fight at length for possession of that pet. For this reason, pet ownership can lead to costly litigation in divorce cases.

If you and your spouse can come to your own agreement regarding sharing time with a pet, you may both get to spend continued time with the pet and the property determination will not be left up to the court. For this reason, it is always best for a divorcing couple to work on a compromise regarding pet time-sharing. If you are unable to come to a compromised agreement on your own, dispute resolution techniques such as mediation or collaborative divorce may assist you.

Pet custody is only one issue in a divorce that many couples do not foresee to be a contested matter. An experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney can help you negotiate to come to a favorable agreement so that you can continue to spend time with your beloved pet without the need for expensive litigation. If you are facing a divorce, call the law office of experienced attorney Alan R. Burton for assistance today.

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In recent weeks, gossip headlines have been exploding with rumors of impending divorce for music superstars Beyonce and Jay Z. The couple married in 2008 and have one child, but media outlets report that they are currently booking separate hotels and hardly speaking. It is widely speculated that the couple is merely trying to keep up appearances due to their current joint tour.
It is not surprising that they would want to successfully complete the tour, as the pair will receive a $100 million paycheck after the tour ends in Paris in September. The tour promoter, Live Nation, has stated that a divorce during the tour would be devastating for public relations, since so many fans specifically want to see them perform as a loving couple. At this point, completing the tour together may be a feat, as they reportedly had an emergency meeting with Live Nation and a group of lawyers four days before the tour was to kick off. Four lawyers are allegedly accompanying them on tour to negotiate any conflicts that arise between the pair.

Business in the Midst of Divorce

When spouses are business partners, both parties’ livelihood is often dependent on the success of that business. If a couple divorces, the company is considered marital property and must be equitably divided. There are a couple of ways couples may choose to equitably divide their business:
· Liquidate and split the proceeds; or
· Have one spouse buy out the other spouse’s interest in the business.
Neither of the above options may be attractive to spouses in certain situations, however. If a business is particularly lucrative or meaningful to them, they may want to keep the company in operation, so liquidating is not an option. Additionally, neither spouse may want to be bought out and have to start a new business for the ground up. For such reasons, equitable division of a business can be a serious issue in a divorce.
A third option is for the spouses to end their marriage, but continue to run the business together. This option is, for obvious reasons, highly impracticable for spouses who can no longer communicate or agree in a healthy, productive manner. For couples who split amicably, on the other hand, it may be possible to continue to work together and profit from the success of the business they built. Some couples view a family business as a child–they cared for the business before the divorce and will continuing to care about it after the divorce.
It is not uncommon, however, for a divorcing couple to decide to keep working together only to have their working relationship later deteriorate. Beyonce and Jay Z thought they could remain professional and get through a tour, only to have the chances of making it to the $100 million paycheck seem slim–and they are not even divorced yet. These are all reasons why it is very important to make the correct decision regarding a family business in a divorce.
Boca Raton divorce attorney Alan R. Burton can advise you on all aspects of your divorce, including how to handle a family business. Contact our office today for help.

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Finances are often a huge source of stress in a marriage. If two people have different spending habits and philosophies, arguments may arise on a regular basis regarding credit card balances and other debts. Unfortunately, financial disagreements are the primary predictor that a couple will divorce, according to a study conducted by the National Survey of Families and Households. These financial troubles can not only lead to divorce, but can also cause issues for you during your divorce proceedings, as well.
In a divorce, Florida law requires that all marital property and assets by equitably divided between the divorcing spouses. The same equitable division applies to all marital debts, as well. Marital debt usually includes all debts either you or your spouse incurred during the marriage, regardless if one or both of your names is on the account. It is surprisingly common for one spouse to take out an individual credit card without the knowledge of the other, and use that credit card to make large purchases or support an unhealthy shopping habit. Unfortunately, a Boca Raton family court may likely still consider this credit card balance to be marital debt and may hold you partially responsible for repayment.

How can you get relief from debts that are not yours?

Fortunately for you, an experienced Florida family law attorney may have ways to argue that you should not be held responsible for debts that are not yours. First, the date of separation or divorce filing can be very important. For example, if you got separated or filed for divorce and your spouse proceeded to quickly rack up large amounts of debt, your lawyer could argue that your spouse was simply incurring the debt in anticipation of dividing the repayment responsibilities between the two of you. In such cases, a judge will likely decide that your spouse is solely responsible for that debt. You should always check your credit reports from all three credit bureaus prior to a divorce to show that your name was not on any of the accounts your spouse opened.
Additionally, even if the judge does divide the debt responsibility between you, your attorney can make sure the division is equitable. “Equitable” does not mean the debts will be equally divided between the two of you, but instead means the debt should be fairly divided. If a judge finds that you should repay some of your spouse’s debt, your attorney can argue that you deserve additional property in return, or that any spousal support you pay should be proportionally decreased.
Dealing with debt in a divorce is never easy, and almost every American couple has some debt in one or both of their names. Fortunately, an experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney knows how to handle debt in divorce cases to work for the best possible outcome for you.
Alan Burton is a highly committed divorce attorney with extensive experience handling all financial matters as they relate to divorce cases. If you are facing divorce, please do not hesitate to contact our office today for assistance.

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Going through a divorce is almost always an extremely difficult process. Often, people going through the breakdown of a marriage may have significant uncertainty about the most important aspects of their lives. Divorce can have significant financial implications for both parties, as you must divide the property and assets you have worked so hard to accumulate. Florida law requires the equitable division of all marital property, which includes most of the assets or debts that are acquired during a marriage. Because of the potentially serious financial consequences associated with ending a marriage and property division, it is important for anyone considering or already involved in a divorce to discuss their situation with an experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney.

Division of a Home in a Divorce

For many people, a home is the largest purchase they will make in their lifetime. When a home is purchased after a couple has gotten married, Florida law treats the home as marital property, regardless of whether the home is titled to one or both spouses. In addition, there are certain situations in which a home purchased prior to a marriage may convert from separate to marital property, making it part of any division of property that may occur in a divorce proceeding.
As marital property, the value of a couple’s home will be split equitably between the parties. Of course, there is no way to literally split the home in two, so there are many options that a couple or a court may consider when dividing the value of real estate that is marital property. Some of the most common options include:
· Liquidation – The parties could agree to sell the home and each take their equitable share of the proceeds. The challenge to this option is that selling a house can sometimes take months or years, so the parties may have to work together and pay the mortgage until a sale is complete.
· One party buys out the other – Another option involves one party purchasing the other’s share by providing the other party with cash or other assets equivalent to their share in the home. If the party keeping the home does not have the immediate capital necessary to buy out the other’s share, they may agree to a structured settlement or other monthly payment plan, which also provides additional support for the spouse giving up ownership of the house.
· Offset the value of the home with other marital property – With this option, one party keeps the house and the other gives up ownership, but instead of one spouse buying out the other with cash, they can agree to give up other property in exchange for the house. For example, if one spouse gets the house, the other may keep all of the investments.
Many factors may be relevant in deciding what to do with the family home. For example, it may be preferable to keep children in the home. Experienced Boca Raton divorce lawyer Alan Burton can help you make the best decision for you regarding your home and any other issues in a divorce; contact our office today for help.

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If you can show “good cause” to the court, you may be entitled to an interim partial distribution of marital assets.

Good cause is defined as extraordinary circumstances that require an interim partial distribution. In order to obtain this type of relief, you are required to file a sworn motion setting forth specific factual basis for the relief that you are seeking. You would have to demonstrate to the court good cause as to why the court should not defer its ruling until the final hearing.

As just one example, employing this technique for an interim partial distribution of marital assets can be extremely helpful if one person is in need of immediate funds,
There are many, many situations that would require the necessity of seeking an interim partial distribution award. The point to note here is that you do not have to wait until you your case concludes in order for you to receive money or other marital assets.

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When you are seeking a divorce, the Florida courts will equitably divide the property that was acquired during your marriage. Equitably does not necessarily mean equally. his property is commonly referred to as marital assets.

Florida law provides that it would be a good starting point to divide marital assets 50-50. If the court intends on making a distribution of marital assets that is not equal, the court is required to consider a list of items, and to make specific findings of fact in the final judgment as to why the distribution is not equal.

The Florida statute which gives the judge authority to divide the marital assets is found under Florida statute 61.075, which is known as the Equitable Distribution statute.

If the court intends on making an unequal distribution of marital assets the court will examine the following list:

The contributions to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as a homemaker.

The economic circumstances of the parties.

The duration of the marriage.

Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party.

The contribution of one spouse to the personal careers or educational opportunities of the other spouse.

The desirability retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, Corporation, or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party.

The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the nonmarital assets the parties.

The desirability retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent child of the marriage, or any other party when it would be equitable to do so, or it is in the best interests of the child or that party.

The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets have to the filing of the petition or within two years prior to the filing of the petition.

Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

The division of the assets that have been accumulated during the marriage is usually not the most difficult task for a judge. The more complicated issue usually is placing values on various items of property the court intends on dividing.

The issue of dividing the property can often times become complicated and complex, depending on the nature of the specific type of property involved.

Please visit my website at www.AlanBurtonlaw.com for more information about my background and experience. I have well over 30 years of experience litigating divorce cases in South Florida, including courts in Fort Lauderdale, Delray Beach, Miami, West Palm Beach and throughout the region. My primary office is conveniently located on Glades Road, just west of I-95 in Boca Raton.

My initial consultations are always free. I would urge you to call me and meet with me, so that I can educate you as to your legal rights.

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I know that divorce can be a very scary time in your life. I know that you have many questions to which you do not have answers. I am a very capable and experienced divorce attorney, and I can guide you through the divorce process and give you the answers you will need. I know I can make you feel at ease throughout the divorce process.

The question frequently arises as to whether or not one person or the other person can continue to reside in the marital home after divorce. The answer to that question is resolved by the specific circumstances and facts that are applicable in your particular situation.

If the home was acquired during the marriage, and there are no minor children, then generally one person or the other can buy out the other person’s interest. In that manner, you could become the sole owner of the home.

If you are unable to immediately acquire the other spouse’s interest in the home, an option may be to enter into an agreement for temporary occupancy of the home for a set number of years. This might give you the time you need to get your life organized after a divorce, and arrange for financing to buy out your ex-spouse’s interest in the home.

The situation is a little bit different if you have minor children. Generally speaking the courts will allow the primary caregiver to continue to reside in the marital home with the minor children, until the youngest of the children attains the age of 18. At that point in time, the house is usually sold and the proceeds divided equally.

Reading a blog can only give you a limited amount of information regarding this issue. It is always best to meet with a lawyer face-to-face and to discuss the specifics of your situation. Not only are you getting the information you need regarding your particular issue, your also have the opportunity to meet the lawyer who is going to be representing you. You should feel comfortable with your lawyer, feel that you can trust your lawyer, and that he will be responsive to you throughout the process.

I would encourage you to call my office, and to schedule a free consultation. My free consultations are in my office and I do not limit you to a telephone consultation. My offices are located in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

You can reach me at any time during normal business hours at 954-229-1660. After normal business hours, feel free to call me at 954-295-9222.

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Married couples acquire many things together over the course of their marriage, including homes, vacation homes, bank accounts, automobiles, and stock portfolios. They frequently start businesses together as well.

What happens to the family business after divorce? How does it get valued, how does it get divided, who gets to continue to run the business …. these are just a few of the questions that need to be addressed in this situation.

Generally speaking, the courts do not like to keep the parties together in a business after a divorce. That being said, the business would have to be valued by a professional, and one party would have to make arrangements to buy out the other party’s interest. This is the scenario which plays itself out most often.
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There are those rare occasions when divorcing couples can, however, continue to operate a business together if they can agree on that arrangement. A story was reported today in the New York Post that dealt with the continuing operation of the Philadelphia Eagles by the divorcing owners, Jeffrey Lurie and his wife.

Although their particular situation is not generally the norm, it does occur. If you have questions about your particular business, professional practice, or any other jointly owned enterprise, it would be a good idea to obtain some professional advice from an attorney experienced in these matters.