Equitable Distribution of Marital Property in Florida
In a divorce, marital property is equitably distributed between the parties. In Florida, all property that the parties acquired during their marriage is considered to be divisible marital property. In contrast, property that does not fit the definition of marital property is considered to be the nonmarital property of the spouse who acquired it. Such property is not subject to division in a divorce case.
The phrase “equitable distribution” does not mean that the parties will walk home with an equal share of the marital property after their divorce. Instead, Florida courts will divide the property in a way that is fair under the circumstances of the case. In some cases, an unequal division of marital property may be what is considered “equitable” under the circumstances.
When courts perform an equitable distribution of marital property, it will take into account the following factors as listed under Florida Statutes § 61.075:
- “The contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as homemaker.
- The economic circumstances of the parties.
- The duration of the marriage.
- Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party.
- The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other spouse.
- The desirability of retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, corporation, or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party.
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the nonmarital assets of the parties.
- The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent child of the marriage, or any other party, when it would be equitable to do so, it is in the best interest of the child or that party, and it is financially feasible for the parties to maintain the residence until the child is emancipated or until exclusive possession is otherwise terminated by a court of competent jurisdiction. In making this determination, the court shall first determine if it would be in the best interest of the dependent child to remain in the marital home; and, if not, whether other equities would be served by giving any other party exclusive use and possession of the marital home.
- The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition or within 2 years prior to the filing of the petition.
- Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.”
Factors for Ordering an Unequal Division of Marital Property
In many cases, the court can unequally distribute marital property after determining that such a distribution is fair and just under the circumstances. In general, situations indicating a disparate contribution or use of marital assets will typically warrant an unequal distribution upon divorce.
The following are factors courts often consider when awarding more marital property to one spouse than the other:
- Large contributions of property: In cases involving short-term marriages, the fact that one spouse contributed a disproportionately large amount of their nonmarital assets to acquire marital property may support an unequal division.
- Intentionally wasting or depleting assets: If one spouse intentionally dissipated or destroyed marital assets for their own benefit at the expense of their spouse, a court may have a strong basis for making an uneven division of marital property.
- Spousal misconduct: When the misconduct of a spouse—such as fraudulent or criminal acts—results in a reduction in marital assets, a court can compensate for the wrong in an unequal award of marital property upon divorce.
- The financial conditions of the parties: In some cases, a disparity in each spouse’s post-divorce financial resources may justify the court in ordering an unequal division of marital property in favor of the spouse with fewer resources.
- The physical and mental condition of each party: Courts have considered the physical and mental abilities and limitations of the parties when determining how to equitably divide their marital assets. For example, in a case where one party has a permanent disability but the other party was young and healthy and employable, the court awarded the disabled spouse with 100% of the marital property.
Contact The Virga Law Firm, P.A. for Legal Representation
If you are going through a difficult divorce or facing a legal dispute regarding Florida family law, the professional advice and advocacy of a licensed attorney can benefit you. At The Virga Law Firm, P.A., our legal team is dedicated to providing sound legal advice and aggressive representation to help you find a fair solution to your legal issues.Call us at (800) 822-5170 or complete our online consultation request form to get started.