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The Complexities of a High-Asset Divorce in Lakeland

By Saunders Law Group on March 11, 2014


Every divorce in Lakeland is complicated, but when lots of high-value assets enter the picture, the process can become especially arduous. How much is a “priceless” work of art actually worth? How do you split up a country club membership? How do you divide investments without incurring significant tax losses?

Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that assets will be split “fairly” but not necessarily equally. In order for a Lakeland judge to determine what’s fair, he or she will consider marriage duration, individual circumstances and the ability of each spouse to be able to support themselves after the divorce. For instance, spouses who sacrifice their own career development in order to stay home and raise children might receive a larger share of the marital assets because they have less earning potential. Often, the standard of living during the marriage is also taken into account.

Another wrinkle: Any property acquired during the marriage, regardless of how it’s titled, is considered marital property. So even if “your” car is under your name, it’s up for consideration.

Assets that are considered marital property:

  • 401(k) plans
  • IRAs/retirement plans
  • Mutual funds
  • Real estate
  • Brokerage accounts
  • Stocks
  • Annuities
  • Family-owned business
  • Overseas Assets
  • Any number of miscellaneous assets acquired during the marriage - country club memberships, art, antiques, etc...

There are, however, a few exceptions. The following are considered separate property:

  • Third party gifts
  • Inheritances
  • Personal injury settlements
  • Any property owned prior to the marriage

Because there’s more on the table in a high asset divorce in Lakeland, dividing assets in a matter that both parties find fair and equitable can be very complex. Due to these complications, it’s common for CPA’s, forensic accountants and various appraisers to become involved in divorce proceedings. There are also important tax implications to consider. Although transferring assets through the divorce is a tax-free event, the same does not hold true for the assets themselves. There will still be significant capital gains consequences for liquidating assets that need to be taken into consideration for a divorce in Lakeland.

As is usually the case, prevention is the best medicine. Signing a prenuptial agreement can alleviate a lot of headache down the road, even if divorce isn’t something you necessarily want to consider at the beginning of your relationship. A trust is another effective preventative measure for securing assets as separate property.

When divorce is on the horizon, it’s imperative that you align yourself with a qualified attorney — especially when high-assets muddy the waters. At Saunders, we promise to help you and your spouse reach an out-of-court settlement that is fair and balanced for both parties, so you can keep your emotional well-being — and your finances — intact.

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