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High-asset property division appeal related to business value

Property division is often one of the most stressful and contentious parts of a divorce. Even when Florida couples are striving for a civil split, protecting individual interests becomes a bigger desire -- often even a survival mechanism. Survival may not be at the heart of a property division battle in a billion-dollar case making national news, but questions about the value of the husband's business are.

According to reports, the couple shared a marital estate worth over $18 billion, but following an order that dissolved the marriage, the husband paid the wife $975 million as her share of the assets. The wife reportedly refused the check at first, because she felt she was entitled to a larger balance of the marital estate.

The dispute apparently deals in part with the value of the husband's business and how it achieved the value it holds. When property, such as a business, is brought by one entity into a marriage, it may or may not become marital property. Even if the property is considered marital property, increasing the value of the property may not be considered during distribution of the assets. How the property is divided is often determined by a variety of factors.

For this couple, the division of the business value may depend on whether the value increased over the years according to normal market value or because of work performed by the husband. If a case can be made that the husband's involvement significantly impacted the value of the business, then the wife's attorney's may be able to successfully seek additional payments.

For now, the wife has reportedly cashed the $975 million check and is discussing appeal options. While successful property division is something individuals want to see immediately, appeals are always an option for those who feel the legal system failed to create equitable division.

Source: Investment News, "Lessons from the $1B divorce case: How to split business assets" Darla Mercado, Jan. 13, 2015

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