When going through a divorce, you will be confronted with terms such as equitable distribution and alimony. Equitable distribution refers to the division the marital assets and debts acquired by the parties. Alimony refers to the financial support paid to one spouse by the other with certain governing attributes. These two areas of a divorce may seem mutually exclusive; however, they can become entangled during negotiations between the parties. In many cases, it is imperative to discuss with your divorce attorney the value of certain property to you versus the value of a potential alimony award.
First, it is important to discuss the awards of property vs alimony in a Florida divorce. Property from a marriage is subject to equitable distribution between the parties. Equity does not mean an even split but rather, the court considers many different factors in order to determine what property should be awarded to each spouse. Some of these factors include: incomes, duration of marriage, minor children, each individual’s debts and assets, health of the parties, contributions to the marriage, marital misconduct resulting in the depletion of assets or increase in debts, and any other relevant factor. After the division has been made, the settlement or judgment is not modifiable by either party.
Alimony is awarded in a Florida divorce upon a showing that there is a need by a party with a respective ability to pay this need by the spouse. It is awarded only to support the financial needs of a party and to aid in their new single life, not to punish or for retribution purposes. After need and ability is presented, the court will account for the amount of alimony by weighing many factors such as: standard of living established during the marriage, length of the marriage, ages of parties, health of parties, earning capacity and incomes of parties, the assets and debts awarded to each party, and contributions to the marriage.
If you are engaged in a mediation or settlement negotiations with your spouse, you may formulate an agreement divesting the property and alimony awards in any way you wish. Therefore, you will be in control of the items you receive. This is when discussions regarding keeping certain property in return for a decrease or elimination of alimony come into play. There are a few factors you should consider in making your decision and they are case specific. First, you should consider how the court will distribute the property according to Florida law as discussed above. Determine if you have facts and evidence to support your claim of being awarded the piece of property you desire. Second, consider the same steps that the court would take in awarding alimony and if you fall within these elements, and have the evidence to support such a claim. Then, you must consider the value of the property vs the value of the alimony award over time. Within this consideration, take into account the ability of an alimony award to terminate or be modified by your spouse after your divorce is entered, while a property settlement is irrevocable.
Alimony and property contain their own specific value in the market as well as to an individual. Therefore, the process of determining which is more valuable to you in your divorce action may take significant time, research, and reflection. Discuss the options available to you regarding certain property divisions and alimony awards with your lawyer to determine the proper course of action in your case.
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