Working for a Fair Outcome in a High-Asset Divorce

In the best of situations, divorce can still quickly become a nightmare. For families with substantial assets, a high-asset divorce can rapidly become a contentious nightmare. Both spouses may feel entitled to more than their fair share of assets.

In scenarios where one party worked and the other stayed home, the working spouse may not believe it's fair to share assets he or she earned while working. If both spouses worked, there can easily be disagreements based on who earned the higher wage and whose retirement account or 401K has seen more contributions during the marriage.

The greater the assets you have, the easier it is for you and your former spouse to end up in a protracted divorce battle over who gets what. The best way to protect yourself during a divorce is to understand your legal rights, as well as the most likely outcome to the asset division process. Unless you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, the courts decide on everything. When the courts decide who gets what, you have very little control over the end result of your divorce.

How do assets get divided in Florida?

Whether you were working to support the family or supporting your working spouse by staying home, you should receive a fair division of assets when you end your marriage. Florida law makes the state an equitable distribution state. That means that divorce courts will attempt to divide all marital assets in a manner that is fair.

Fair does not always mean an even 50/50 split after divorce. Factors like child custody, child support and child care needs, as well as earning potential and abuse or infidelity could all factor into how assets get divided during a divorce.

Typically, marital assets include anything earned, won or purchased during the marriage. Property owned by one party prior to the marriage will get considered separate property. However, the courts could consider income or interest from those assets accrued during marriage as subject to division.

What other influences impact asset division?

The courts will look at the potential for income for both spouses when splitting assets. Has one spouse been out of work for years? If so, finding and securing a stable job that pays a livable wage could prove difficult.

Custody of your children can impact how assets get divided. The courts are more likely to allow the custodial parent to retain the marital home, provided that equity in the property is properly shared. Infidelity can also have an impact on how assets get divided.

Many family court judges will consider any marital assets spent on the affair, including gifts, trips or hotel room rent. Those amounts may get deducted from the total assets received by the unfaithful spouse. Many other factors can also impact the division of your marital assets, including abuse or squandering of marital assets.