When a couple has decided to divorce, both parties have different ideas on who is entitled to what. What I always tell my clients is that when you are divorcing, its important to have realistic expectations from the beginning about what you are legally entitled to. Mediation has done wonders for the divorce process and has helped couples put away their boxing gloves in order to come to a resolution that everyone can live with. The following are five "tips" that can help people better understand the issues surrounding property distribution in a divorce and encourage couples to be reasonable when talking settlement:
1. Equitable does not mean equal. If the State in which you live has an "equitable division" of marital assets, this does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split.
2. Don't expect to have the same lifestyle that you enjoyed during the marriage after the divorce is finalized. When a couple divorces, they are essentially splitting one household into two with the same amount of income. It is absolutely false to think that a total household income of $120,000.00 can sustain two households in the same way that it sustained one.
3. A good compromise means that no one is 100% happy. Good compromises mean that everyone is giving something up that they want, so that there can be a resolution. In order to settle a divorce, everyone has to be willing to give something up or in some cases, do something that they don't want to do.
4. Take emotion out of it!! This is probably the most important rule to live by when divorcing. By not getting emotionally attached to items of personal property or real property, its easier to come to a settlement because you don't argue about keeping something that you hate, just to spite the other party.
5. Fault doesn't matter. In states, like Florida, which have no fault divorce, marital fault has no affect on property distributions or alimony. Therefore, unless someone has dissipated a martial asset for a non-marital purpose, fault does not factor into the equation of the distribution of assets and liabilities. While this may seem unfair, there is no way around it, so accepting this as fact from the beginning is useful.