Deborah Beylus, a distinguished South Florida Certified Family Mediator and educator, will be speaking at the 30th Annual Florida DRC Conference, ADR: Improving the Resolution of Civil Cases, on August 11-13 at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, FL. Hosted by the Florida Dispute Resolution Center (DRC), Office of the State Courts Administrator, the conference gathers practitioners from various professional backgrounds to discuss and share ideas on alternative dispute resolution.
The DRC provides staff assistance to four Supreme Court of Florida mediation boards and committees; certifies mediators and mediation training programs; sponsors an annual conference for mediators and arbitrators; publishes a newsletter and an annual Compendium; provides basic and advanced county mediation training to volunteers; and assists the local court systems throughout Florida as needed.
On August 12, 2022, Deborah Beylus will lead a workshop called “Valuation Techniques in Divorce Mediation Negotiations.” This workshop will review the valuation methods and techniques mediators use to properly identify and distribute marital assets and debts for equitable distribution in divorce mediation.
Introduction to the Topic
Florida is an equitable distribution state. Equitable distribution is a legal theory guiding how property acquired in a marriage should be distributed between the two parties in a divorce. Property is divided into two groups: marital property and separate property. The latter is property acquired before the marriage or inherited or received as a gift from a third party during the marriage. Only marital property is subject to equitable distribution.
An equitable division of marital property is not always an equal division. Rather, the court will divide property between spouses in a way that it considers fair. In the majority of cases, a fair division will be an equal (50/50) division. The law is extremely vague on how to resolve this financial issue. This topic has less to do with equitable distribution law and more to do with money and negotiation.
Property division can be a challenging aspect of divorce in mediation. A couple can accumulate many assets, including real estate, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, vehicles, retirement accounts, and businesses. Equitable distribution of marital assets is a three-step process: (1) identification of marital and nonmarital assets, (2) proper valuation of marital assets, and (3) distribution of marital assets.
(1) Identification of Marital and Nonmarital Assets
Not all assets or liabilities are created equal. Some may be pre-tax, while others are post-tax. Some may change in value frequently, while others are quite static. Couples often come to mediation without a clear understanding of what they own. Without identifying the marital assets and debts, it is impossible to begin settlement negotiations. What may appear fair on the surface is not necessarily fair, and there’s a lot more to it than simply splitting everything down the middle.
A cut-off date determines whether an asset is marital or nonmarital. In most circumstances, the cut-off date is the date on which the petition for dissolution of marriage was filed. The valuation date is the date that a marital asset is valued, after which it is determined to be marital. Different assets may have different cut-off dates, depending on what is just and equitable under the circumstances.
(2) Proper Valuation of Marital Assets
Potential tax liability may only be considered when valuing marital assets when a taxable event has occurred as a result of the divorce, or is certain to occur within a time frame, and can be reasonably predicted. The purpose of considering tax consequences in the distribution of marital assets is to ensure that one party is not charged with the full value of an asset that is burdened with an imminent payment of taxes.
(3) Distribution of Marital Assets
The assets are equitably divided between the parties, according to the terms of the marital settlement agreement. To facilitate this split, the paying spouse can facilitate monetary payment through a lump sum or through installments paid over a fixed period of time.
Why This Workshop Will Enhance Your Mediation Skills
There are complex financial issues at play in every divorce. To achieve a settlement agreement that is fair to each spouse, it’s critical to understand how to identify, value and divide different assets in a fair and balanced manner.
For more information about the mediation services that Deborah Beylus offers, please visit SouthfloridaMediationServices.com or contact Ms. Beylus at 561-789-0710.