If you are planning a divorce, you may wonder how property division works. Florida law provides for an “equitable distribution” of marital assets and liabilities. This means a fair division of marital assets, regardless of whose name is on the title. But how do the courts determine what is “equitable” when it comes to property?

First, the court will determine which property and debt is considered marital, meaning assets that were acquired during the marriage by one or both spouses. This includes real estate, vehicles, checking and savings accounts, investments, retirement plans, business interests, personal property of value, and so on. This also includes any debts incurred during the marriage by one or both spouses. Gifts given from spouse to spouse during the marriage are considered martial assets as well.

Next, the court will assign dollar amounts to the marital property and debts. Now the assets can be divided between the spouses in an equitable fashion, meaning not necessarily equal, but deemed fair by the court. To do this, the court considers several factors, including how long the marriage lasted, the contribution to the marriage by each spouse, the economic circumstances of both spouses, any interruption or contribution to career or educational opportunities for either spouse, as well as additional factors necessary to provide justice to both spouses. The court also takes into consideration any intentional depletion, waste, or destruction of marital assets within 2 years of filing for the divorce and after the divorce filing, which provides additional protection against a potentially spiteful spouse.

Each divorce case is different, which is why it is essential to work with a knowledgeable divorce lawyer. The experience a family law attorney has will help make the divorce process smoother and less stressful.

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Guma Auguiar went missing hours after his wife, Jamie Aguiar reportedly asked for a divorce. His fishing boat was found on a Fort Lauderdale beach with the engine running,  there was no sign of Guma. Jamie’s lawyer said that, they think he might have staged his own disappearance to escape his marital and legal anguish.  Aguiar’s mother, Ellen, thinks he is still alive but is in a delusional state and suffers from psychosis. Aguiar does have a history of mental illness, his mother says he is bipolar.

After his disappearance his wife Jamie and his mother Ellen filed legal documents fighting for control of his assets, said to be valued at $100 million. Ellen wants control to be turned over to a third party, Northern Trust, a wealth management company that was selected by Guma Auguiar  to take care of his assets in case anything ever happened to him. 

It is unknown if  Northern Trust will take control of Aguiar’s assets, even if they want to, they can’t take immediate control because their lawyers need to approve the move first. If Northern Trust does accept they will have more than $50 million of Auguiar’s U.S. assets. It is unknown what will happen to his millions in Israeli assets. Florida court has no control over international assets.

Aguiar made his fortune in 2006 when he and his uncle sold their Texas-based energy company for $2.5 billion, according to the Associated press. He has been in a legal battle with his uncle, Thomas Kaplan, for years over how the monies should be divided.