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Some complexities in high-asset divorces

Florida is an equitable distribution state, meaning that in divorces decided by the court, judges should divide marital assets equitably between the spouses. When the couple works out the divorce agreement themselves, they have more leeway. They may also need to factor in the requirements of a prenuptial agreement.

Many divorces are high-asset, meaning they may include second or third homes, vacation properties, gifts, stocks, high-end investments and businesses, among other possibilities. These divorces can quickly become complex even in the most companionable of splits. Here is a look at some reasons why.

Business valuation

Many high-income couples own at least one business, either jointly or singly. When they own the business jointly, it can be difficult to determine each party's stake and contribution and how they will handle the business going forward. For example, will one spouse buy the other out, or might they keep co-owning it and working there? Even in a case where the business is singly owned, the other spouse may be able to stake some claim in it. Perhaps he or she lent the other spouse money to start the business or contributed in another way. Even if the spouse apparently did nothing, there could still be a claim if the business gained value during the marriage or was started after the marriage.

Trusts and estate planning

Alimony is an issue that comes up in some high-asset divorces when there is an apparent income or asset disparity. However, if the spouse seeking alimony has or may have family trusts or estate planning devices in place that stand to benefit him or her, that could affect alimony, either in the short term or long term or both. The more assets and income-producing capability a person has, the less alimony he or she is generally eligible for.

Inheritances

One spouse might also make a claim on another spouse's inheritance. Depending on what the inheriting spouse did with the property, the claim might be obviously invalid or have some merit. For example, it could have merit if Spouse A inherited $200,000 and deposited it into a joint bank account shared with Spouse B.

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