Seven Key Property Division Factors in Florida
Here in the Sunshine State, a legal marriage dissolution must divide marital property in a just and right manner. That’s an important principle, but it is also rather subjective. To flesh out this general rule, state lawmakers outlined a series of factors in Section 61.075 of the Florida Statutes.
These factors play a prominent role in both divorce trials and settlement negotiations. During a trial, it’s usually best to focus on one or two factors and press those issues. During settlement negotiations, and most divorces settle out of court, Port St. Lucie divorce attorneys must be mindful of all these factors. If the property settlement does not jive with these considerations, the judge may not approve the settlement.
Length of the Marriage
This factor is important in alimony disputes as well as property disputes. The math is simple. The longer the marriage, the more each spouse contributed to it both emotionally and financially. A property division must reflect both these contributions.
Custody of Minor Children
Typically, it is in the children’s best interests if they remain in the family home. So, the residential parent often receives title to the home. In these situations, the non-residential parent often receives an owelty lien. When the residential parent sells the home, the non-residential parent receives his/her share of equity at the time of divorce.
Relative Economic Circumstances
This factor usually pertains to the earning capacity of each spouse. Because of their job experience, education, health, and other items, some people can earn more than others. If one spouse has a substantially lower earning capacity, that spouse may be entitled to a disproportionate property share to offset that difference.
Noneconomic Contributions to the Marriage
As mentioned, the longer the marriage lasted, the higher the emotional contribution. These noneconomic contributions are especially high if one spouse gave up career advancement to be a caregiver spouse.
Dissipation (Waste) of Marital Assets
Technically, adultery or other fault in the breakup of the marriage is not relevant for property distribution purposes. But the dissipation rule is often a back door. For example, if Husband gave $10,000 in gifts or other support to a girlfriend, Wife may be entitled to her share of that money, which is probably half ($5,000).
These factors often overlap. The same difficulties which arise with division of a family home may come up in other contexts as well, such as a family business. Rather than an equity lien, the non business-owner may receive an offset, such as a larger spousal support award, to make up for the lost property.
Agreements Between the Spouses
This factor may be the single most important one. Florida law highly favors agreements between the spouses. These pacts reduce court involvement and give parties more control over the outcome. So, if the spouses agree to a property division, a judge will probably approve it unless it is manifestly not a just and right division. The pact could be a divorce settlement agreement or a prenuptial agreement.
Contact an Experienced Lawyer
Divorce property divisions must account for all statutory factors. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We routinely handle matters throughout the Treasure Coast area.