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Tiger Woods Writes Big Check

The former number one golfer has not won a major tournament since 2010, but now that his divorce from Elin Nordegren is financially behind him, Mr. Woods hopes that things will change for the better.

Ms. Nordegren finalized the financial portion with the stroke of a pen when she released a $54.5 million mortgage she held on Mr. Woods’ Jupiter Island home. Under the terms of their property settlement, Ms. Nordegren released the lien once Mr. Woods satisfied his financial obligations, which reportedly exceeded $100 million. She filed for divorce in 2010, shortly after Mr. Woods admitted to multiple affairs with numerous women.

The golfer, who is currently recovering from back surgery, is contemplating a comeback, which may begin as early as this year’s Masters in Augusta, Georgia.

Classifying Property

As a rule of thumb, all property that a couple owns at the time of divorce is considered marital property, unless the challenging spouse can prove that it was acquired before the marriage or by gift. But even then, the lines are not always so clear.

Assume that the wife gave permission for part of some inheritance money (separate property) to be used to fund improvements on a dilapidated rent house the couple had acquired after the marriage (marital property). As a result of that investment, the formerly empty house now produces income every month.

In this case, marital and separate property is commingled. In most cases, the contributing estate, which in this case is the wife’s separate property, is entitled to reimbursement from the benefiting estate, which in this case is the marital estate. However, the wife could also make an argument for a share of the rental proceeds, under the theory that her contribution is the reason that the property is producing income.

The Florida Legislature recently changed the law in this area, and in order to obtain reimbursement, the challenging party prove that the commingled funds were not gifts, and therefore the separate property was not transmuted into marital property.

Dividing Property

Once property is classified, all marital property must be equitably divided, and “equitably” is not necessarily the same thing as “equally.” To accomplish this division, the court my turn to a variety of factors,including:

  • Agreement of the Parties: Most courts approve whatever agreements the spouses make, as long as the covenants are voluntary and not manifestly unfair.
  • Contributions to the Marriage: Economic and noneconomic contributions are assigned equal weight, although the balance sheet may suggest otherwise.
  • Waste of Assets: Dissipation is sometimes a back door to considering fault in this portion of the property settlement; for example, the husband might have spent $10,000 in marital funds buying gifts for various girlfriends.
  • Future Economic Outlook: If one spouse has a significantly lower future earning potential, that spouse may be entitled to a larger property share.

Many times, an offset is appropriate; for example, the wife may take a larger share of upfront cash in exchange for a lower share of future retirement benefits.

Contact Compassionate Lawyers

At Eighmie Law Firm, P.A., we understand the financial turmoil that divorce often causes. Call our Port St. Lucie office today for prompt assistance in this area. We routinely handle cases in St. Lucie County and nearby jurisdictions.

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