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Preparing for divorce mediation

You and your spouse have not been able to resolve your property division, custody and alimony matters, but you believe mediation may be the solution. The mediator is prepared to help the two of you reach agreements on these topics, but you must be able to present your side of the situation to reach a fair decision.

Here are the things you can do to make sure you get the most out of your mediation sessions.

Why a Facebook divorce is a terrible idea

Go ahead. Admit it. You “live” on social media. You cannot stay away from Facebook and the others. You constantly check your cellphone to keep up with your friends and family and let them keep up with you. But if you plan to get a Florida divorce soon, you should seriously consider limiting your Facebook, et al activity until after you conclude your divorce. Why? Because posting certain kinds of personal information prior to or during your divorce could come back to haunt you, especially if yours is a high-asset divorce

It is true. No matter how carefully you think you have set up your privacy settings, your spouse and his or her divorce attorney likely can access the information you post on Facebook and other social media. And when they do, they could use your postings against you in court. Roughly two-thirds of divorce attorneys nationwide admit that they seek out damaging information about their clients’ respective spouses on Facebook and other social media.

Are you really ready to fight for the house in the divorce?

This is the house where you have raised your children and put down roots. The divorce is already uprooting you emotionally, and you do not want to give up the safety and security you feel when you are at home. You want to keep the house.

Before you declare your intention at the negotiation table, though, consider the financial effects this will have on your life if you win. The price may be too high.

How does Florida divide assets in a divorce?

The prospect of divorce brings up many questions, and one you likely have is what will happen to your assets. You may have friends who have lost or gained much in a divorce, and you wonder what will be the case for you.

Property division is complex, especially when you have numerous assets of high value, such as a business, vacation homes and investment accounts. Although Florida has rules governing the process, much of it depends on your personal circumstances. Becoming familiar with both factors can give you a sense of what to expect.

Forensic accounting investigation and high-asset divorce

Divorce is stressful. Key issues revolve around money and children. Fair asset division can be particularly stressful in a high net-worth divorce. In a low-asset divorce, both parties have a pretty good idea of their assets, and often, they can settle differences amicably if both parties are willing to be fair.

High-asset divorce, on the other hand, can be unbelievably complex. Assets transform into stocks, bonds, art, jewelry, annuities, insurance, cash, and multiple checking and savings accounts, and they can flow through a complicated series of businesses until it seems the first company swallows the tail of the last company. Generally speaking, one spouse usually maintains financial knowledge and control while the other spouse trusts that information he or she receives is the real financial picture of the couple.

2 simple alimony decision points

If anyone tells you anything definite about alimony in Florida, it is likely you should take that information with a grain of salt. Even people who have gone through the divorce process and have similar situations to yours may not be good sources of information. Alimony decisions in Florida are a highly discretionary area of the law.

Of course, judges have some limits. For example, you would almost never need to pay permanent alimony if your marriage lasted only a couple of years. In fact, most of the factors the courts take into consideration could easily boil down the following two principles:

Will a judge force me to split my 401(k) with my ex?

In preparing for a divorce, especially in a high-asset situation, tensions run relatively high. Not only do you own several properties, but you also have a sizeable investment account with your employer. You planned on that 401(k) getting you through retirement and into old age, but now that divorce is imminent, you need to formulate a new plan.

During a divorce, it is normal for couples to split all investments and cash, including 401(k) accounts. Circumstances may dictate just what the split looks like, but you may want to prepare yourself for the reality that you will need to share a portion of that retirement account.

How will your antiques impact your high-asset divorce?

If you and your spouse are like most high-asset Florida couples, you likely own some antiques. Or at least you own some old things that you believe to be antiques. And you likely believe that these things have increased in value the older they have become.

Before starting to assign values to these items for purposes of your property settlement agreement, however, you would do well to get them appraised by a professional antique appraiser. Why? Because you may discover that some things you thought were antiques really are not. In addition, you may also discover that even your true antiques are not worth what you thought they were.

3 signs divorce mediation is right for you

Although the stereotype of the divorce process is two angry spouses fighting it out in court, not everyone wants to go that route. Litigation is usually costly, lengthy and discouraging. A more positive approach to divorce is mediation. 

This method is about working together with the help of a facilitator to create your divorce agreement. It saves time and money, reduces contention, allows for personalization and encourages compliance. However, mediation does not work for every couple. Sometimes, litigation is the best option. How can you tell which is right for you?

Is your spouse committing financial fraud?

As you and your spouse begin contemplating a Florida divorce, you may have the uneasy feeling that (s)he is attempting to hide marital assets from you so as to obtain a better financial position for himself or herself in your property settlement negotiations. Your suspicions likely are greater if the two of you are a high-asset couple

Spousal asset hiding represents a not uncommon practice. Greedy and/or vindictive spouses often engage in this form of financial fraud.

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