Listing Your Assets & Debts
When it comes to preparing for divorce, creating a list of all of one’s assets and liabilities can play a key role in ensuring that the property division process goes as smoothly as possible. Unfortunately, documenting assets, both those acquired during a marriage and those obtained by either spouse before the marriage took place, is a notoriously difficult process, especially for couples who own unique or particularly valuable assets or who have an acrimonious relationship, so if you are contemplating divorce, it is important to ensure that a dedicated Fort Lauderdale property division attorney is involved in the process of accounting for, listing, appraising, and dividing your marital assets.
Florida Property Division Basics
In Florida, all of a couple’s assets and debts that were acquired or incurred during their marriage are considered marital property, which means that both parties own a roughly equal share of those properties or debts. While two spouses can also own separate assets that were acquired before marriage, even this property can become marital property if a court determines that it was commingled with marital assets. Although all community property must be divided equitably upon divorce, it’s important to remember that equitable distribution is not the same as equal distribution, so it is possible that one spouse could end up with a greater share of certain assets than others.
Disclosing Your Assets
Any property settlement reached by a divorcing couple will not be fair unless both parties fully disclose all of their assets. This includes all properties, accounts, businesses, investments, possessions, and any other items that have monetary value. To ensure that all of these assets are accounted for, divorcing parties should look through all of important financial documents related to:
- Personal bank accounts, shared bank accounts, credit cards, and retirement plans;
- Business properties and accounts;
- Real estate, including the marital home, vacation properties, income properties, and unoccupied land;
- Passenger vehicles and recreational vehicles, such as motorcycles, boats, and trailers;
- Investments, including life insurance policies, stocks, bonds, and annuities; and
- Personal belongings of high value, such as jewelry, art, antiques, and musical instruments.
This process can be especially difficult for those who do not have as much access to financial documentation as their spouses do. In these cases, the divorcing parties should be sure to write down all of the assets that they do know about and then provide that information to a lawyer who can request the information during the discovery process.
Listing Your Debts
Assets are not the only types of property that divorcing couples must divide. Rather, spouses who are ending their marriages must also come up with a complete list of all of their debts, which can usually be achieved through the assessment of documents related to home and equity loans, medical bills, student loans, credit card bills, auto loans, and personal loans. Like assets, debts acquired during marriage will almost always be divided equitably between two parties who will then be responsible for paying off their portion of the liability after their divorce is finalized.
A Dedicated Property Division Lawyer
Each person’s financial portfolio is different, so it is important for divorcing couples to discuss their specific situations with an experienced attorney. To learn more about how we can help during your own divorce, please contact dedicated property division attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 today.