Over the course of your relationship, you and your partner have probably acquired many belongings and liabilities, each a brick in the life you were building together. However, as time went on, perhaps the foundations of that life began to crumble, and separation or divorce became the only viable option to regain peace. Mrs. Darley knows how incredibly heartbreaking this is, especially since separation and divorce are rarely clean-cut. In addition to the emotional pain caused by the loss of the relationship, you must also worry about navigating the court system, which can be a complex undertaking with multiple facets. Among those is the division of your property and liabilities.

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It can be frightening to think about losing many of the possessions that you worked hard to attain, which only adds to an already stressful situation. Property division in Florida is complex and often the source of many long and heated arguments. Mrs. Darley wants to help ease your burden by clearing the murky waters surrounding property and liability division by compassionately guiding you through the process. Through her years of experience, she has calmed some of the most tumultuous quarrels and helped numerous people reach conclusions that allow them to regain their quality of life. If you are contemplating separation or considering filing for a divorce or an annulment, Mrs. Darley can help.

There are many questions and misconceptions surrounding property and liability division in Florida. First, the word “property” encompasses several different things, such as those that are physical and can be bought or sold (e.g., houses, vehicles, land, clothes, décor, and furniture) and those that are non-tangible items that hold only monetary value (e.g., checking and savings accounts, pensions or retirement funds, certificates of deposits, money markets, businesses, insurance policies, and cash). Second, the word “liabilities” encompasses several different things, such as personal loans, mortgage(s), auto loans, credit cards, charge accounts, loans against retirements, etc. One of the most often confused issues is whether a piece of “property” is owned when it is secured by a “liability” (i.e., home with a mortgage). In short, both must be accounted for as separate line items.

We know how incredibly heartbreaking this is

Knowing what matters to her clients has helped Mrs. Darley find innovative ways to resolve the issues surrounding properties and liabilities. Ideally, property division can be determined in a relatively peaceful manner. However, not all cases can be determined peaceably, and some must be presented before a judge when the couple cannot resolve the issues on their own. If this happens, Mrs. Darley will carefully craft your case to help you persuade the judge to your side.

  • The first step in dealing with properties and liabilities is to identify them. This is a process wherein each piece of property is listed, and the title and date of acquisition is determined. If a piece of property or a liability was owned/owed prior to the marriage, then it may be considered a non-marital property or liability. It is important to know that just because a property or liability was owned/owed prior to the marriage, that does not mean some part of it, or all of it, isn’t subject to distribution, it may be, which is why having an attorney representing your interests is important.
  • The second step in dealing with properties and liabilities is to value them. In Florida, there are many different dates that could be used to value properties, depending on what equity requires. For example, the Court may value a liability as of the date of filing, especially if one party added to the debt and the other party did not benefit from it, and value a checking account as of the date of the trial/final hearing. What date the Court uses is a matter of discretion, which is why it is important to have an attorney advocate for the best outcome for you.

Once the properties and liabilities have been identified and valued, the Court must then determine how they are going to be divided or distributed. In Florida, the Court is expected to start with the premise that division/distribution is to be equal; however, the Court can make an unequal division/distribution, if it is supported by the facts and evidence.

Lastly, in the event the division/distribution of the properties and liabilities results in one party receiving a greater share of the properties and liabilities, then the Court will likely assess what is called an equalizing payment. The determination of how an equalizing payment is made, whether it be by requiring the sale of property or a payment plan, is an important legal issue and financial issue. If an equalizing payment is necessary, Mrs. Darley can assist you by showing the best way to accomplish it to the Court.

As the division of properties and liabilities is a sensitive issue, it is important that you decide what items are most valuable, that you want to see accounted for or distributed to you. This will help save you time and fees in the long run as there is no need to spend substantial fees and time on the distribution of a mop!

Whatever your situation may be, the process is always extremely intricate and highly stressful. Mrs. Darley understands that you have worked hard to gain every belonging you have and to place funds away for your retirement. Mrs. Darley’s goal is to help your family resolve this in a fair and reasonable manner and in a way that will, hopefully, keep as much of your properties intact as is possible, rather than wasted on unnecessary litigation.

Contact Jennifer L. Darley, P.A. to learn more about how Mrs. Darley and her team can help ensure your properties and liabilities are properly accounted for and fairly and equitably divided or distributed

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