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Wealthy couple reaches complex property division agreement

When Florida couples divorce, they must decide how they will divide the property they have accumulated during their years together. The process can quickly become complicated where the spouses have a significant number of high-value illiquid assets, such as artwork. But where husband and wife are willing to work together, even complex property division can go smoothly.

Case in point: Take the divorce of a high net worth couple whose art collection alone was worth $102 million. They came to an early agreement on splitting most of their other assets, but the art was a sticking point. The wife wanted paintings she valued for their aesthetic and sentimental value while the husband was concerned about retaining paintings to keep as collateral for a loan.

Eventually, the judge in the case required the parties to submit their requests to him in writing. The spouses complied, and after some deliberation, the judge arrived at a solution that appeared more or less satisfactory to the couple. Then they evened things out between themselves by exchanging a few pieces to reach their preferred arrangement.

While very few people on the planet will have to divide over $100 million in artwork, the problems solved by this couple can be part of many divorces, just with different dollar values. There may be marital property that is particularly difficult to divide, perhaps because both parties want the property, or because it would not make sense to sell the property and divide the cash proceeds.

In Florida, the law provides that property is to be divided equitably, which is not necessarily the same as equally. Instead, it means the property will be split in a fair manner, which depends on the circumstances of the case.

Source: The Seattle Times, "The art of divorce: She gets the Monet, he gets the Renoir," Ken Armstrong, July 28, 2012.

• Distribution of assets in a divorce has the potential to be complex. If you would like more information on our firm's practice, please visit our Pensacola property division page.

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