Seven Property Division Factors in a Florida Divorce
Like most other jurisdictions, the Sunshine State has an equitable division law. So, upon divorce, marital property must be divided equitably. That’s not necessarily the same thing as equally.
To assist judges in making determinations, and to assist Port St. Lucie divorce attorneys in crafting settlements, Florida law sets forth a number of factors which help determine an equitable division under the circumstances.
Noneconomic Contributions to the Marriage
In some cases, the so-called homemaker factor is substantial. Frequently, one spouse forgoes career advancement and assumes a caregiver role. In other cases, this factor is literally non-existent. In most cases, spouses share the breadwinner and caregiver functions, at least to some extent.
Generally, this factor refers to the actual and potential earnings of each spouse. So, it’s one of the bigger ones. Florida law requires property divisions which do not create an unfair financial burden for either party. Earning potential, or lack thereof, can considerably impact this burden.
This factor is similar to the homemaker factor mentioned above. But in this situation, the beneficiary is the other spouse instead of the children. Additionally, the contributions could be economic or noneconomic. For example, Husband might take a second job so Wife can earn her law degree.
Dissipation (Waste) of Community Property
Fault in the breakup of the marriage, such as adultery, is not technically a property division factor in Florida. However, the dissipation rule is essentially a back door. If Husband spent $5,000 on gifts for girlfriends, Wife might be entitled to an equitable share of that money. Generally, the emotional value exceeds the financial value in these situations.
Custody of Minor Children
Property division does not take place in a vacuum. Frequently, financial and emotional issues overlap. Generally, it is in the best interests of the children for them to remain in the family home. If that’s the case, the residential parent obviously must retain the home. The decree could contain a reserve clause deferring action on home ownership until the children turn 18 or 21.
This factor often comes up with regard to family businesses. Frequently, one spouse operated the business and the other spouse played a vital supporting role. That’s especially true with regard to professional practices, like beauty salons or dental offices. So, it might be best for everyone if that arrangement remains the same. The professional practice continues uninterrupted, and the other spouse is not stuck with an unwieldy asset. Setoffs often work well in these cases (e.g. you keep 100 percent of your retirement account if I keep 100 percent of the business).
Economic Contributions to Marital or Nonmarital Assets
This factor involves commingled funds. For example, Wife might use a wedding gift from her parents (her nonmarital asset) to make improvements on a rental house that Husband owned before the marriage (his nonmarital asset). Attorneys must give financial credit where credit is due. In some cases, such transfers could change the character of the property. So, if Wife’s gift was big enough, the house, and all subsequent rentals, might be her nonmarital property.
Connect with an Experienced Lawyer
Divorce property settlements must uphold several factors listed in Florida law. 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.