In the State of Florida, marital property is “equitably” divided between two parting spouses during the divorce process. Meaning, it is apportioned in such a way that is fair to both parties. However, it is important to keep in mind that the terms “fair” or “equitable” do not necessarily mean equal. In general, a determination regarding which spouse gets what can be adjudicated by the court or decided outside of a judicial setting by virtue of a settlement agreement enacted by the parties. Regardless of the circumstances, there are several steps you can take to maximize your chances of obtaining the property that you want, whether through a settlement or judicial determination. Accordingly, these are as follows:
Identify all of your separate property. Make sure to label and identify gifts and other property that you separately obtained before or during the marriage. This includes valuables such as family heirlooms (i.e., jewelry, furniture, etc.), money held in trust, and real estate. Consider that it may be best to take this important step before you ultimately file your divorce case or, prior to when you will likely receive your spouse’s divorce filings. This way, the process is completed beforehand rather than performed at a time when tensions are running high and conflict over property is likely.
Make sure that you have sufficient proof that you are entitled to a specific piece of intangible or tangible property. This can be accomplished through providing a copy of a will, trust, stock certificate, or other document evidencing your entitlement to certain property.
Take a comprehensive inventory of your property before removing it. Put together a list of your separate property and take pictures of each and every item before removing it from the marital home or jointly held storage space. This way, if conflicts arise at a later time, you can substantiate which property is rightfully yours to take.
Understand your legal rights and obligations when it comes to the marital home. In other words, it is important to understand that both you and your spouse have the right to enter the marital home to obtain your separate property, unless prohibited by a court order. This means that even if your spouse has changed the locks, you can seek a court order that enables you to enter the home and take your belongings.
Keep track of what your spouse is doing with your property prior to finalizing your divorce case. If your spouse has been using certain property that you will ultimately receive post-divorce, be sure to check and make sure there aren’t any liens on the property or any outstanding debts owed thereon. This may include a car, residential home, vacation home or any other form of real or personal property that can be subject to a lien.
Contact a qualified family law attorney. Regardless of the circumstances, it is always important to consult with a seasoned family law attorney, such as Mr. Cunha, as he can advise you of all your rights, legal options, and responsibilities both before and during your divorce proceeding. The biggest mistake people make in this regard is failing to hire an attorney as early in the divorce as possible, as some errors cannot be reversed and may lead to significant legal headaches later on.
To learn more about your legal options, contact the Law Offices of James S. Cunha, P.A. now at 1 (800) 558-1227 or locally at (561) 429-3924. Our West Palm Beach divorce law firm handles all types of family law proceedings located throughout the West Palm Beach, Boca Rotan, Wellington, Jupiter, Palm Beach County, Broward County, Martin County areas.