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Top Five Divorce Property Division Factors in Florida


The Sunshine State, like most other jurisdictions, is an equitable distribution marital property state. Overall, ED basically means two things. First, a divorce cannot be an unfair financial burden on either spouse. Second, equitable is presumptively the same thing as equal. The judge may order an unequal distribution of property (assets and/or debts) in some cases. We’ll look at five key factors below.

Some states, most notably community property states, give judges little discretion in this area. But Florida’s equitable division law is very flexible, giving both parties important legal and financial rights. That being said, these rights are nothing but ink on paper unless a determined Jupiter family law attorney enforces them in court. Only a dedicated lawyer has the expertise to craft a property settlement that protects your legal and financial rights yet also is something the other spouse wants to sign.

Dissipation (Waste) of Assets

Fault in the breakup of the marriage, usually adultery, isn’t a relevant property division factor in Florida or most other states. Dissipation is a back door.

If Wife spent $10,000 on gifts for her boyfriends, when she and Husband divorce, the marital estate is entitled to reimbursement for the money Wife essentially wasted. If the judge orders a 50-50 division, as is usually the case, Wife must pay Husband $5,000.

Incidentally, money earned during the marriage is marital property. If Wife liquidated some real property assets she acquired before the marriage, the marital estate wouldn’t be entitled to reimbursement.

Florida has some unusual rules in this area which a Jupiter family law attorney must be aware of. For example, the dissipation rule only applies if the waste occurred after the petition was filed or within two years preceding the filing date. So, if Husband takes a girlfriend on a weekend trip while he and Wife are separated, the rule might come into play.

Custody of Minor Children

Usually, the child’s best interests require the residential parent to remain in the family home with the child. In such cases, the residential parent must have full legal title to the home. The nonresidential parent usually receives a lien for his/her share of the equity.

Incidentally, divorce changes legal title but not financial title. So, if Wife gets the house in the divorce, if she wants to remove Husband’s name from the note, she must typically refinance the loan.

Noneconomic Contributions to the Marriage

This factor is significant if one spouse gave up career advancement opportunities to become a stay-at-home caregiver.

However, in most relationships, the spouses share caregiver and breadwinner responsibilities. If this division is uneven (Hank sells propane and propane accessories full time and Peggy is a part-time substitute teacher), this factor is negligible.

Future Earning Capacity of Each Spouse

Typically, people who are healthy, well-educated, and have substantial job experience have more future earning potential than people who are unhealthy, poorly educated, and/or inexperienced. Idf the disparity is significant, the property division should account for that fact.

This factor is naturally weighted toward women. Divorced women are much more likely to live below the poverty line than divorced men.

Duration of the Marriage

This factor is usually connected to noneconomic contributions. If Peggy stayed home for twenty years, she has a strong case for a disproportionate division. If she stayed home for two years, her case is much weaker.

 Reach Out to a Dedicated Palm Beach County Lawyer

Divorce and related matters almost always involve financial and emotional issues. For a free consultation with an experienced Jupiter family law attorney, contact Caroline Olson, P.A. Virtual, home, and after-hours visits are available.

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