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Equitable distribution: what you need to know

The process of dividing up your assets can be one of the most difficult aspects of your divorce. It is the manifestation of splitting up, and it can turn out to be much more emotional and contentious than you expected, especially when you don't exactly know what to anticipate.

Whether you and your soon-to-be ex are able to come to a property division agreement on your own or it needs to be resolved by the courts, the fact is your assets and debts will be divided. Knowing how this will happen can help you prepare for this process and give you some idea of what to expect.

To begin with, you should know that in Florida, assets are not just divided in half: They are divided in accordance with equitable distribution laws. This means they are divided in a way deemed fair, or equitable. 

In order to do this, all the eligible assets will need to be calculated. Generally speaking, individual or separate assets will not be divided. Assets that accumulated during the marriage, however, will typically be included in distribution.

Once the assets are calculated, certain factors will dictate how they are divided. This would include factors like how long a couple was married, each spouse's earning potential, contributions to the marriage and desirability on either person's part to keep certain assets like the marital home.

In the end, you likely will not have equally divided assets. You may keep the house if you are the primary caregiver for your children while your ex-spouse keeps a larger share of financial investments he or she managed during the marriage. There is no one single way to divide up property.

Negotiation and compromise can be critical tools at this stage, in addition to familiarity with the legal system. Having to work through all this on your own can prove to be overwhelming and complicated, especially when you consider the strong emotions that are often involved. Working with an attorney can help you pursue the fair and acceptable settlement you need and deserve.

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