Five Property Division Factors In A Florida Divorce
The Sunshine State is an equitable division jurisdiction. Upon marriage dissolution, marital property must be divided in an equitable manner. In this context, “equitable” is usually, although not always, synonymous with “equal.”
Overall, the divorce must not be an unfair financial burden on either party. This goal is a little broad and subjective. So, to assist the judge in this determination, Florida law lays out a number of factors to be considered. Some of the prominent ones are discussed below.
Agreements Between the Parties
If the parties agree on property distribution or pretty much any other issue, St. Lucie County family law judges almost always uphold these agreements. Sometimes, the pact is a written contract made well before the divorce. Premarital agreements are much more common in Florida now that lawmakers have adopted the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act. Other times, the agreement is an informal, or even unwritten, resolution which the parties made during pretrial settlement negotiations. In either case, the agreement must not be blatantly one-sided and both parties must have had an equal voice in the process.
Contributions to the Marriage
A judge must consider both economic and noneconomic contributions. Economic contributions are usually easy to calculate. However, there may be a few difficulties. For example, Husband’s landscaping company might have done free yard work at the marital home. Noneconomic contributions are more difficult to measure. Many relationships feature a “breadwinner” spouse and a “caregiver” spouse. Even if the caregiver spouse gave up a career to assume that role, thus establishing a baseline, the noneconomic contribution is difficult to calculate.
Relative Debt Distribution
If one spouse receives most of the debt payments, that spouse is arguably entitled to a larger share of the assets. That’s especially true if the asset produces revenue, such as a rent house. Assets like these sometimes involve classification issues. For example, if Alice uses a martial gift to fix up a rent house which Ralph owned before the marriage, the house could be Ralph’s separate property, Alice’s separate property, or marital property. The same thing applies to past and future rental receipts.
Custody of Minor Children
Typically, it is in the children’s best interests for them to remain in the marital home. That outcome minimizes disruptions in the midst of a very disruptive process. If the residential parent needs financial assistance to maintain the home, that assistance might come in the form of a disproportionate property share. Or, to offset this situation, the residential parent might receive a larger share of home equity.
Relative Age, Health, and Educational Background of Each Spouse
In general, people who are young, healthy, and well-educated can earn more money than people who are old, sick, and/or not well-educated. The ability to rebuild wealth is a factor in marital property distribution. This factor tends to weigh in favor of divorced women. Statistically, divorced women are much more likely to live in poverty than divorced men.
Count on Dedicated Lawyers
Judges must divide marital property according to certain factors. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.