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Property Distribution

Sarasota Collaborative Attorney Helps Couples Reach Property Distribution Settlements

Team approach provides a dignified process and yields excellent results

If you are dissolving your marriage in Florida, you must divide your property according to the state’s equitable distribution laws. Unfortunately, the traditional approach to divorce litigation, which pits one spouse against the other, can be time-consuming, costly and contentious. However, the collaborative divorce process provides a less stressful, cooperative process that can yield equal or better results in less time and with less expense. Tia E. Jensen, P.A. guides couples through the collaborative process, protecting the rights of each spouse. Because this team approach saves time and money, the results are generally better for my clients’ financial future.

The basics of Florida’s equitable distribution law

Under the laws of equitable distribution, each spouse can keep their separate property but must divide their marital property in a manner that is fair, but not necessarily equal. If you leave the issue to the court, a judge applies numerous factors to get to a “fair” result. But when you choose the collaborative process, you decide what is fair, so you retain greater control over the outcome.

The major steps in equitable distribution are:

  • Identifying and categorizing property — Spouses must disclose their assets and debt and designate each item as either separate (the sole property of one spouse) or marital (subject to equitable distribution). Separate property includes assets acquired before the marriage, assets acquired during the marriage in exchange for separate property, gifts to an individual spouse by anyone other than the other spouse, and inheritances. It is possible for property that was separate to become marital through a process known as commingling.
  • Placing a value on the marital property — In order to divide assets and debt fairly, the value of each asset must be known. If you own real estate, a business, artwork, jewelry, or antiques, you may have to seek a formal appraisal. Complex financial instruments such as retirement funds, stock portfolios, insurance policies, and stock options can also be difficult to place a value on.
  • Distributing the marital property in a manner that is fair — Once you know the value of the marital estate, the process of distributing assets can begin. The law requires judges to consider various factors, such as the contribution each spouse made to the acquisition of wealth, the contribution each made to the marriage and the home, the length of the marriage, the health of the spouses, and each spouse’s ability to earn an income. The collaborative process gives you the freedom to weigh the factors that are most relevant to your situation.

For equitable distribution to work in the collaborative setting, each spouse must commit to complete financial transparency. Any attempt to hide assets or debt can derail the process.

Neutral financial advisor facilitates your property settlement

Collaborative divorce takes a team approach, and one of the most important members of your team is a neutral financial advisor. Specially trained in collaborative law, the financial advisor helps parties understand the various issues related to property distribution, including the tax consequences of liquidating and dividing assets. In litigation, each party has their own finance specialist, doubling the cost of those services. In an adversarial setting, asset valuations turn into a battle of experts, which drags out the proceedings. However, when you opt for the collaborative process, you share the cost of hiring a financial advisor and work cooperatively to reach a timely settlement.

Contact an experienced collaborative attorney for property division in Sarasota

Tia E. Jensen, P.A. is committed to helping couples dissolve their marriage as amicably as possible through the collaborative process. As part of a collaborative divorce, I help couples reach fair, timely, and cost-effective property settlements. Call today at 941-330-9600 or contact my Sarasota office online to schedule a free consultation. My office is conveniently located in the Ringling Professional Center, 2831 Ringling Blvd.