Five Things to Consider Before Agreeing to a Marital Property Settlement
In many divorce cases, dividing all of the property and assets that you have accumulated over the course of your marriage is often the most time consuming and potentially contentious part. Even if you and your spouse agree on ending the marriage, disagreements can arise. It is important to put thought into any decisions you make during this time and to have an experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney carefully review any settlements proposed. Agreements you enter into have the potential to impact your financial security, now and in years to come.
Negotiating A Property Settlement Agreement
Under the Florida divorce statutes, all marital property must be divided between you and your spouse before your divorce can be granted. Rather than making a 50/50 split, this division is on an equitable basis. This means that it is open for negotiation, taking into consideration factors such as each spouse’s income and earning potential, as well as the amount of non-marital assets they possess.
In some cases, negotiations concerning divorce settlement agreements are fiercely contested and end up having to be heard before a judge, who will make the final decision. In others, the spouses are able to agree to the terms and simply submit the agreement to the judge for approval. While there are certain advantages to settlements, there are also some important things you need to consider before signing one:
- Has all property been disclosed? It is not uncommon for a spouse to attempt to hide assets, or for certain property or accounts to not be included in your agreement. Retirement benefits are an example of something worth a considerable amount of money that can easily end up being left out.
- Are you entitled to spousal support? If you make significantly less than your spouse or sacrificed your own career for the sake of your marriage, you may be entitled to spousal support, or alimony. However, there are tax implications so you will want to review Internal Revenue Service guidelines first.
- Are temporary conditions causing you to make a bad decision? If you are currently struggling financially, beware of letting your circumstances persuade you to settle for less than you deserve.
- Are you using a settlement to ‘get back’ at your spouse? Settlement negotiations need to be practical to ensure they provide for both your current and future needs. Making it personal can stall negotiations while asking for more than your fair share could reflect poorly on you in court.
- Would you be better off letting a judge decide? A settlement may be able to save time and money in court costs and attorneys fees, while it avoids putting your case in the hands of a judge who does not actually know you or your situation. However, in some cases, taking the case to court may be the best option.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney Vanessa L. Prieto provides the trusted legal guidance you need in settlement negotiations. To discuss your case, call or contact our office online and request a consultation today.