In its most basic terms, a divorce is a lawsuit. The lawsuit asks a judge to dissolve a marriage, divide property equitably, and if children were born of the marriage, award custody and visitation rights. The preceding description, however, is overly simplistic because it fails to encapsulate the emotional aspect of the lawsuit one or both parties bring to the equation. High net worth individuals are no different in this regard. This is a very stressful time in a person’s life because the stakes are high, and the outcome of the lawsuit will determine the rights and responsibilities of the parties forever.
Florida is known as a “no-fault” state. Accordingly, either husband or wife can file for a divorce on the basis of an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Neither party must state a reason for the irretrievable breakdown. Notwithstanding, the reason for the marital breakdown may become relevant in other matters related to the divorce in terms of property division and alimony. The action commences with the filing of a petition in the circuit court serving the judicial district in which the parties reside. The case will be referred to the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court. The party filing the petition has the burden to produce proof that a lawful marriage existed, one of the parties was a citizen of Florida within the six months immediately preceding the filing of the lawsuit and that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Once a party files for divorce, then the parties can try to resolve their differences by negotiating with each other on issues such as property division and child custody. Negotiation among the parties is sometimes the most efficient manner to reach an agreement. Courts favor parties working diligently to come to an agreement. Negotiating in good faith can reduce the costs of litigation and minimize the emotional impact and disruption a divorce can have on the people involved, that includes the children. If the parties are unable to negotiate among themselves with their lawyer but wish to avoid costly and protracted litigation, then mediation may be beneficial to the parties. Keeping the case out of court, except when necessary, helps the parties resolve their dispute discreetly, which is a significant consideration for many high net worth individuals.
Florida law instructs the judge to divide the marital property equitably. Florida is an equitable distribution state rather than a community property state. Consequently, the family law judge commences property distribution with the presumption that all marital property must be equally divided between husband and wife. The judge may order an uneven property division based upon various statutory grounds, which taken into consideration, guide the court to rendering an order of property division that is equitable, in other words, fair. Determining the cash value of these assets can be difficult. Frequently, experts such as real estate appraisers and actuaries must be consulted to determine the net worth of an asset. An equal division of the marital property may result in one party paying alimony to the other for a period of time.
The term property under Florida law has wide-ranging implications. Property subject to division under Florida law is real property, cars, boats, bank accounts, investment accounts, intellectual property, such as copyrights and patent rights, contract rights, business assets from sole proprietorships, partnerships and other corporate forms, as well as assets such as deferred compensation, pensions, and annuities. Marital debt must also be divided and will be equitably distributed.
Although property division is a significant concern for the parties, the care and comfort of the children are the highest priorities. Unless a compelling reason exists, the parties can share joint legal custody of the children. Accordingly, both parents can decide on health care issues, schooling, religion, and the like. Additionally, physical custody can be awarded to one parent while the other enjoys visitation rights. The court can order child support payments made by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent.
For Help With Your High Net Worth Divorce In Orlando
Orlando Litigation Attorney Beryl Thompson-McClary will evaluate all aspects of your case, create a timeline of events, and the extent of your assets that allows her to strategize your case for the best resolution possible. To schedule your free consultation with Attorney Beryl Thompson-McClary, call her Orlando, Florida office today at (888) 640-2999.