When you have invested time, energy, and money into your property, you want to believe that you have some claim to it. The law in Florida is that property must be distributed equitably. This sounds fair, but equitable doesn’t mean equal and what you end up with could be drastically different from what you may believe you’re entitled.

Florida family court requires that all couples attempt mediation as a first step to solving inequities and coming to a mutually acceptable agreement. Using this process alleviates the need for the court to determine the disposition of your family property. However, if you cannot come to a mutually acceptable agreement, the court rules as it sees fit without regard to your most deeply held preferences.

Maybe you and your spouse have built a business together. Or maybe you are working on dividing the house and other material properties. Florida’s equitable division laws mean that a judge may not agree with what you perceive as your fair share. The judge must consider a variety of points beyond pure numbers when deciding what equitable means.

Let’s say, for example, that John and Jane had a business together that they have agreed to sell as part of the divorce proceedings. Jane is the primary caretaker of the children, and deals with a chronic illness. Jane is likely to receive more than 50 percent of the sale of the business because she has higher costs. Let’s say, however, that Jane and John are sharing custody but Jane has a history of spending money wastefully on shopping. In this situation, John is more likely to receive a higher share, even in a no fault divorce.

It is clear is that every case is unique and with so much at stake, it’s preferable if both parties can come to agreeable terms rather than leaving decisions to a judge. A negotiation between the two parties’ lawyers can help minimize the emotional tensions involved and ensure that you receive your fair share. Especially when it comes to dividing a business, having an experienced and dedicated Florida divorce lawyer on your side can mean the difference between reaping the benefits for your hard work and being left out in the cold.