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A house divided: Splitting real estate in a Florida divorce

Property division is one of the most complex aspects of divorce for many Florida residents, especially when high assets and real estate are involved. For example, if you intend to keep, sell or leave behind the marital home, you'll want to plan sufficiently to protect your future financial stability. What at first seems like a good deal may turn out to be headache down the road.

Sometimes both spouses are in agreement that neither of them wants to keep the house. Maybe too many memories are attached to the property, or maybe both parties simply agree that the home is too large or not worth keeping. The matter of selling the house might seem straightforward enough, but it's best to account for a few aspects of the sale prior to settling the divorce.

For example, how will the proceeds from the sale be distributed -- directly or in escrow? And who, if not both parties, will head up the job of showing the house or staying in contact with a broker? And how will tax liabilities affect the total sum each party gets? For example, you don't want a capital-gains tax surprising you.

If there is agreement that one party will keep the home while the other spouse moves on, then the party who gives up the house may need to consult with a divorce attorney about the necessary steps toward detaching from property-related liabilities. For instance, you might want to be sure that your name isn't still on the mortgage and that all legal and financial ties to the house are severed.

When the parties can't agree on what to do with the property, it may be necessary to go to court. In that case, each party will need to be represented by an attorney with experience in negotiating divorce settlements in accordance with Florida's property division laws.

Source: Reuters, "Splitsville? How to divide property in a divorce," Geoff Williams, Oct. 7, 2013

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