Tampa Property Division Lawyer Protects Your Assets
Strong advocacy leading to fair results
If you are going through a divorce, the distribution of your property is vital to your future financial security. Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means the court divides your marital estate in a manner that seems fair under the circumstances, but not necessarily in equal portions. Because a judge can exercise discretion to award you less property than you feel you are properly entitled to, you would certainly benefit from having an attorney on your side who is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law and Marital and Family Law. At Sessums Law Group, P.A., we know how to achieve positive results in property negotiations and litigation, and we are determined to deliver.
Hardworking divorce attorneys manage the equitable distribution process
Equitable distribution is essentially a three-step process, and each step has its own complexities that you and your attorney must address. Sessums Law Group assists you throughout with pertinent advice and strong advocacy on matters related to:
Identifying property — This step actually has two parts. First, the parties must disclose their property to each other. For the purposes of equitable distribution, property consists of assets and debts. Then, a determination must be made as to whether the property belongs to the marital estate and is thus subject to equitable distribution or is separate property that will go free and clear to one spouse.
The first difficulty is knowing whether your spouse has fully disclosed all assets and debt. Unscrupulous parties often withhold information about assets they wish to hold onto and debts they want to dump on their ex-spouse later. When necessary, we consult forensic accountants to determine whether a spouse might be holding something back and use the discovery process to compel full disclosure.
The second difficulty is determining whether property is marital or separate. These general rules apply:
- Property acquired prior to the marriage or after a legal separation is separate.
- Property acquired with separate property is separate.
- Gifts and inheritances acquired during the marriage but specifically designated for one spouse are separate.
- Separate property can become marital through a process called commingling.
As your advocate, we investigate the origin of your assets and debts to make the best case for classification.
Valuing property — The value of each asset and debt must be ascertained. Parties often disagree about the value of complex financial instruments, real estate, fine art, jewelry and other items. An appraisal by an expert can help settle the debate.
Distributing property — The Florida equitable distribution statute requires the court to consider all relevant factors when deciding the portion of the marital estate each party receives. Of the 10 statutory factors, those most frequently cited are:
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage
- Each spouse’s direct contribution to the wealth of the marital estate
- Each spouse’s economic circumstances
- Career sacrifices and contributions to the other’s career each spouse made
- The length of the marriage
- Whether ownership of the marital home is important to raising dependent children
- The extent to which one spouse intentionally wasted marital assets
We understand the court’s decision-making process, so we are meticulous about drawing the court’s attention to factors that favor your claim to your marital assets.
Taking the decision out of the judge’s hands through a negotiated settlement
Any time a case goes to trial, a party risks an adverse judgment. It’s often safer to reach a property settlement through traditional negotiation or divorce mediation. These less adversarial processes have advantages in that they are often cheaper, less time consuming and less stressful; moreover, you retain greater control over the outcome. Settlements are voluntary, so if you don’t like the outcome, you don’t have to sign. You retain the right to take the issue to court, and we accompany you, determined to fight for your rights.
Contact our Tampa attorneys for capable property division counsel during divorce
Sessums Law Group, P.A. helps our Florida clients protect their property rights during divorce. Please call 813-435-5058 or contact us online to schedule an appointment at our Tampa office. We also have locations in Lakeland, Sebring and Sarasota.