Top 10 Property Division Factors in a Florida Divorce
Most jurisdictions, including Florida, are equitable division states. The marital estate, which includes both assets and debts, must be divided in such a way that the divorce is not an unfair financial burden on either party.
There is a strong informal presumption that a 50-50 division fits the bill. But an equal division is certainly not equal in all cases. If a Port St. Lucie family law attorney introduces substantial evidence on any of the points listed below, the judge might well order a disproportionate division.
Agreements Between the Parties
Most divorce cases settle out of court, and most Florida judges approve these settlements. This factor also applies to premarital agreements. If these pacts meet all the requirements of the Uniform Premarital Agreements Act (e.g. they were voluntary and not blatantly one-sided), most Florida judges approve them.
Dissipation (Waste) of Marital Assets
Dramatic dissipation examples include burning down a home or driving a car off a cliff. Frequently, however, dissipation is much more subtle. For example, Husband might secretly buy a car for his girlfriend. In any case, the dissipation must have occurred within two years prior to filing.
Custody of Minor Children
Typically, property division and child custody are separate issues. But in this case, they overlap. Frequently, it’s in the best interests of the children for them to remain in the marital residence. As a result, the residential parent often receives outright title to the house. Nonresidential parents are often entitled to an offset in these cases, such as a lower spousal support obligation.
Economic Contributions to the Marriage
In the investment world, the greater the monetary investment, the greater the return, at least in most cases. That’s generally true, but not necessarily true, in a Florida divorce. This factor is often tempered by noneconomic contributions to the marriage and some other factors.
Many divorces involve a small, family-owned business. Frequently, selling the business and dividing the proceeds is not the best approach. Perhaps the market is depressed at the time. Or more commonly, perhaps one spouse wants a child to take over the business at a future date. As is the case with a house, if one spouse receives the business, the other spouse is generally entitled to an offset.
Direct Contributions to the Other Spouse’s Career
Occasionally, one spouse pays for another spouse’s school tuition or other educational expenses from separate funds. If that happens and the couple divorces shortly thereafter, the contributing spouse is almost always entitled to a disproportionate division based on the amount of the contribution.
Indirect Contributions to the Other Spouse’s Career
This factor is especially prevalent in certain situations. If Husband agrees to stay home with the kids while Wife attends medical school, there is an unspoken agreement that Husband will share in the fruits of Wife’s labor. If that does not happen, Husband could have a claim for a disproportionate property division.
Length of the Marriage
In some states, the duration of the marriage is one of the only relevant factors. This factor frequently prevents spouses from suffering a drastic decline in the standard of living following a divorce. Additionally, this factor often eliminates the “golddigger” dilemma.
Economic Circumstances of the Parties
Young, well-educated, and healthy people usually have significant earning potential. If there is a significant disparity between the spouses in areas like these, this factor often comes into play.
Noneconomic Contributions to the Marriage
In many relationships, the “homemaker” factor is almost nonexistent. The spouses share this burden, at least to some extent. But over a third of marriages feature a stay-at-home parent. These “caregiver” parents might lack marketable skills, so they need a disproportionate property division to fill the gap.
Count on an Experienced Lawyer
Equitable property division upon divorce normally depends on a number of factors. For a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie divorce attorney, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We routinely handle matters throughout the Treasure Coast area.