The state of Florida is not a community property state. Instead, it follows an equitable distribution model, meaning that a court will ultimately decide what is a fair distribution of assets.

While divorcing parties may submit a proposed agreement, there is no guarantee that it will be granted. Further, there is no guarantee that any modifications or orders issued by the court will be considered “fair” by both parties. For this reason, there are a couple of things any divorcing couple in Florida should consider, but especially those in the throes of a high-asset divorce such as where there are businesses involved.

First, parties should create a list of asset and liability classifications to determine which were non-marital assets, and which were obtained during the marriage. Non-marital property is not subject to distribution and will therefore remain with the original owner. Second, parties should decide on a valuation date for all property. In high-asset divorces, there are often assets that hold great monetary value and need to be appraised by an expert. One example of this would be art work. The determined value of worth should be based on the market average of the valuation date decided on by the parties or by the court. Appraisals of businesses owned by the parties should consider past, current and future projected income values. These numbers can greatly impact alimony or child support payments going forward, so it is very important that they are obtained through a team of business appraisal experts.

Any party to a high-asset divorce would benefit from the services of an attorney who is well-versed in complex asset division and business. Attempting to navigate these negotiations on your own can result in your receiving far less than a fair share, and negatively affecting your financial future.