Avoiding Court Intervention When Dividing Marital Assets
The court will intervene when there is no common ground between the spouses, and they seem too far apart on major issues to decide for themselves. That being said, just because you can’t agree is not necessarily a good reason to take the decision out of your hands and give it to the court. The court intervenes only when it has to and mediation remains the preferred means of handling asset distribution and resolving the issues in your case. Spouses can sometimes find themselves in high-conflict situations but prefer not to allow the court to intervene.
There is a good reason for taking this approach for all couples, especially for high asset couples. When the court intervenes in asset distribution, the assets are distributed pursuant to equitable distribution and each party may not receive the asset they desire. Mediation allows the parties to control who is receiving which asset. Family law attorneys understand that there may be a great deal of conflict in a divorce, but mediation is still the best method for dividing assets. How does that work?
Mediation in high-conflict divorces
The alternative to reaching an agreement at mediation is further litigation and a trial. During a litigated divorce, each spouse typically pays for their own attorney. They also typically pay for their own experts to provide testimony concerning the value of any assets. Each spouse may also need to hire an expert like a forensic accountant to examine their finances. The more involved these experts are, the more costly the divorce becomes. In addition to the expert’s valuation of any assets, the experts would be paid to testify before the court, costing the parties significantly more money than if the parties settle at mediation. Frequently, parties decide to hire some experts prior to mediation, like an appraiser, in order to value any real estate the couple owns. Although the parties pay for the appraisal, the parties do not have to pay for an appraiser to testify at trial if an agreement is reached at mediation. If a case proceeds to trial, the court would weigh the testimony of the experts, as well as all of the witnesses, and make a decision based on the evidence that is presented before the court at trial.
In cases where the spouses do not agree, the matter could head to litigation. However, avoiding litigation is a reward in its own right. Most couples are much happier reaching common ground, with the assistance of a mediator and the advice of their own family law attorney.
What sorts of experts will need to be hired?
One common expert used is a real property appraiser who can either determine the initial value of an asset or determine its accrued value over a period of time. When it comes to marital property, anything acquired during the marriage is technically a marital asset. However, in some cases, one spouse may bring an asset to the marriage that accrues or loses value during the marriage. In that case, an expert would have to determine both the initial value of the property and how much value the asset accrued or lost while the marriage lasted. The accrued value would be considered a marital asset while the initial value would be separated from the marital property and assigned to one spouse only. Obviously, it can get very complicated very quickly.
Talk to a Lakeland, FL Divorce Attorney Today
Darla K. Snead, P.L., Attorney at Law helps divorcing couples in Lakeland, Florida and surrounding areas reach a fair and equitable resolution of their case through mediation. Even in high conflict divorces, most couples would rather resolve their case at mediation, instead of litigating for sometimes years and then having their case be decided by a Judge that does not know their family or their unique needs. Mediation is usually the best choice, even in high-conflict divorces. Call a Lakeland family lawyer at our office today to schedule an appointment and we can begin discussing your concerns immediately. Attorney Darla K. Snead is a Florida Supreme Court certified family mediator who can represent you as an attorney or serve as the neutral party to mediate your case.