For many divorcing couples in Florida, one of the highest value assets that will need to somehow be divided is a boat –- perhaps even a yacht. When you bought the vessel, jointly signed the registration and christened it with a special name, you probably weren’t considering the day when it would be subject to Florida’s equal distribution laws. But here you are.
If you and your spouse can reach an agreement on how to fairly divide the value of the boat, you won’t have to worry about a judge making the decision for you. In many cases, one spouse (generally the one who’s most attached to it and is the real sailor in the family) keeps the boat. In return, the other spouse will get to keep other assets of roughly the same value.
In other cases, spouses may decide (or a judge may order) that the boat be sold, and the proceeds fairly divided between them. Either way, it’s essential to get a fair valuation of the vessel that you both agree on before you proceed.
If the boat changes ownership – whether to just one spouse or to a third party – you’ll need to complete the appropriate paperwork for transfer of ownership. Depending on the size of the vessel and how and where it is registered, you may need to go through the U.S. Coast Guard or other U.S. or foreign entities.
Your family law attorney can provide valuable guidance as you contemplate your options for splitting up the boat. They can also refer you to professionals who can help ensure that you get a fair value and that any change of ownership is properly documented.