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Don’t forget post-divorce tax liabilities when dividing property

Florida courts divide a marital estate equitably, rather than in an exact 50 percent split. Yet what is fair? Florida law and statutes apply several factors in answering that question.

A divorce court typically considers each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, the length of the marriage, and the economic situation of each party. The factors are also not necessarily given equal weight. The unique context of each marriage may call for one or more factors to predominate.

A variety of assets may comprise a high-asset estate. In addition to traditional assets like motor vehicles, real property, bank accounts and personal items, large estates may also include business interests and substantial holdings in securities and retirement accounts. Keep in mind that the name on the title to an asset is not necessarily conclusive of its classification in the marital estate. If an asset was acquired during the marriage, it is generally subject to division, even if only one spouse’s name is on the title. Marital estates may also have liabilities, such as mortgages, credit card accounts and other loans.

Unless a spouse understands the potential post-divorce tax treatment of marital assets, he or she will not be able to make informed decisions about property division. For example, distributions from a retirement account may trigger tax liabilities. Alimony payments must also be characterized as income on the recipient’s tax return, and may be deducted on the other individual’s tax return. Payments to third parties on behalf of a spouse may also be characterized as payments in cash. However, child support and real property settlements are not characterized as alimony.

In a high net worth divorce, negotiations about property division should not be undertaken without preparation. In particular, our Florida divorce law firm conducts substantial research into the inventory and tax implications of marital assets before proposing ways to equitably divide them. That approach acknowledges the complexity that accompanies property division negotiations.

Source: Yahoo, “4 Tips for Retooling Your Retirement Plan After Divorce,” Rebecca Lake, Nov. 8, 2016

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