Articles Posted in Equitable Distribution

Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that in divorce actions, the courts have the authority to divide marital assets in a manner that they deem fair and just. Not all property acquired during a marriage is subject to equitable distribution, though, as shown in a recent Florida ruling. If you have questions about how ending your marriage may impact you financially, it is prudent to talk to a skilled Miami divorce lawyer as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the husband and wife divorced. In the final dissolution of judgment, the trial court ordered the husband to pay the wife $255 per month, which the court stated represented a portion of his “military retirement.” Five years after the divorce was final, the wife filed a motion for enforcement and contempt, arguing that the husband retired two years earlier but had not paid her any portion of his military retirement. The court granted the wife’s motion, and the husband appealed.

Assets Subject to Equitable Distribution

On appeal, the husband argued that he medically retired and that, therefore, the money he received represented military disability payments rather than retirement payments. He further noted that he did not meet the length of service requirement to receive retirement payments from the military. As such, he argued that the trial court erred in ordering him to make payments to the wife. Continue reading ›

In many divorce actions, a couple will disagree as to how marital property should be divided. In some instances, a party will go so far as to intentionally divert funds to prevent their spouse from accessing them. The courts typically do not look kindly on such behavior, as demonstrated in a recent Florida divorce action in which the court found that the wife’s act of depositing marital funds in an irrevocable trust constituted misconduct. If you have concerns about how a divorce could impact your finances, it is in your best interest to meet with a Miami divorce attorney as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the husband and the wife were in the process of divorcing. After the petition for dissolution was filed, the wife transferred approximately millions of dollars in marital funds into an irrevocable trust. She allegedly did so to protect the husband from wasting the assets after the divorce, given his history of being reckless with marital funds and subject to extortion schemes. Allegedly, in the trial court’s final judgment of divorce, it allocated the money in the trust to the wife for purposes of equitable distribution, which increased the value of the marital estate and ultimately prompted the court to require the wife to pay the husband an equalizer payment of approximately $2 million. The wife appealed, challenging the trial court’s ruling.

Intentional Diversion of Marital Funds

On appeal, the trial court ruling was affirmed. Specifically, the court found that contrary to her assertions, the wife’s actions solely benefitted her and were unrelated to the marriage and, therefore, constituted misconduct and intentional diversion of marital funds. Continue reading ›

There is typically some delay between the time a couple decides to end their marriage and the date ultimately determined to be the effective date of the end of the marriage. While the difference may seem insignificant, it is essential for determining issues like property division and spousal support. Recently, a Florida court discussed the distinction between the two dates in a case in which the wife argued that the court relied on the wrong date when determining equitable distribution.  If you are contemplating seeking a divorce, it is advisable to confer with a seasoned Miami divorce lawyer to assess your rights.

The Divorce Action

It is reported that the couple married in 1996 and separated in 2008. They did not enter into a formal separation agreement, but both began relationships with other people. In 2018, the husband filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. The wife filed a counter-petition in which she sought alimony. The court held a trial on the issue of alimony and equitable distribution, during which it determined the effective date of the end of the marriage to be 2008. As such, it denied the wife’s request for alimony. The wife filed a motion for rehearing, arguing that the court erred in determining the effective termination date to be 2008 rather than 2018.

Determining the Effective Date for the Termination of Marriage

The appellate court agreed with the wife’s argument that the trial court improperly calculated the effective date for the termination of the marriage. It found the error to be harmless, however and therefore affirmed the trial court’s rulings with regard to property division and alimony. Continue reading ›

Married couples often accumulate assets over the course of their marriage, and how that property should be split is often one of the most contentious issues when they divorce. The state of Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that the courts are free to divide marital assets in any way they see proper. Whether a court distributes property equally or unequally, it must establish a factual foundation for its decision, and if it fails to do so, the decision may be overturned. This was recently proven in a Florida opinion issued in a divorce proceeding. It is in your best interest to contact with a Florida divorce attorney about your rights if you decide to end your marriage.

The Case’s Background

The couple allegedly married in 2002. During their marriage, they had two little children. The spouse served in the US military until he was honorably discharged in 2017 owing to mental and physical injuries sustained in many incidents. The Veterans Administration determined that he was 100 percent disabled and awarded him disability compensation.

Later that year, the wife reportedly filed for divorce. The husband stayed in the marital house, while the woman moved in with her parents with the children. Both parties filed an equitable distribution worksheet to seek an equitable allocation of the assets. The husband sought that he be allowed to maintain the marital home in exchange for taking on the mortgage, whilst the wife urged that the house be sold and the proceeds split. The court delivered a final ruling that mostly followed the husband’s planned asset and liability division, but ordered the marital home to be sold. The husband filed an appeal. Continue reading ›

Talk to enough people who’ve been through contentious divorces and, at some point, you’ll probably hear about how the person’s “no-good, low-down, miserable excuse for a spouse” lied on the stand, got away with it, and got the “better end” of the divorce outcome. Oftentimes, these complaints are just the verbal expressions of generalized frustration about having been through the painful process of divorce. However, a question remains: what happens if you discover documented proof that seems to indicate that your spouse did lie during his/her trial testimony, but you only came into possession of that proof after the final judgment? Fortunately, even after your divorce is finalized, you still have options. An experienced South Florida family law attorney can help you choose the best approach based on your specific situation.

A recent Orlando-area divorce case involving a medical sales professional and a stay-at-home mom was an example of an action where alleged falsehoods played a role.

One of the most heavily litigated issues in the case was the amount of the husband’s income. The wife, in seeking to establish the husband’s income, presented evidence related to five physician clients. The husband, however, countered that two of those doctors were not his clients. Regarding one of those two doctors, Dr. G., the husband stated that he never did any business with that physician, never tried to do any business with Dr. G. and, as a result, never received any income from Dr. G.

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Many married people, during their wedding, recite vows in which they promise to remain together “for better or for worse.” Stay married long enough and you’ll likely encounter some of each. If you were hurt in an auto accident while you were married, that might be an example of the latter. Getting a monetary judgment or settlement award based on that accident might qualify as the former. If you have received an award of money during your marriage such as a personal injury settlement, that can be a complicating issue in your divorce. To get the reliable answers you need to potentially complex divorce issues like this and others, be sure you are getting your information and advice from an experienced South Florida family law attorney.

Martin and Mary were a couple who got divorced in Hillsborough County after nearly three decades of marriage. Two years before the couple separated, the husband was injured in a car crash. The couple sued and eventually received $28,000 in a settlement of the case.

In the divorce judgment, the trial judge declared the settlement funds to be a non-marital asset belonging to the husband. The wife contested that ruling successfully in an appeal.

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There are lots of things that can “sneak up” on you, but a judgment of divorce shouldn’t be one of them. If you’ve received notice that your spouse has obtained something called a “default judgment of dissolution of marriage,” chances are high that you didn’t have an attorney. If that happens, you may not know what to do. Let’s start with what you shouldn’t do: don’t panic, don’t despair and definitely don’t give up. Instead, do reach out to an experienced South Florida family law attorney who can help you explore your options for reversing that default judgment and getting an outcome that’s fairer to you.

The law prefers that all cases – especially family law matters – be resolved on their merits, not on procedural bases. This gives your request to overturn a default judgment enhanced odds of success.

For example, consider this South Florida husband’s divorce and default judgment case. His wife filed for divorce. The husband submitted an answer that said he didn’t oppose dissolution, but he did oppose the equitable distribution the wife proposed.

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When going through a divorce, the #1 issue for most spouses is their minor children. In terms of inanimate objects, though, the most valuable asset with which most divorcing spouses must deal is the marital home. Obviously, one of the last things you want is to have your name on the mortgage if your spouse is the one remaining in the home after the divorce. No one wants to be attached to a debt for a home they have no legal right to occupy. There are ways to safeguard yourself financially, both before and during a divorce. One of those ways is by retaining a knowledgeable South Florida family law attorney to make sure you are fully protected.

Refinancing a marital home after a divorce can be a particularly tricky thing here in South Florida. Given the area’s tendency to undergo large fluctuation in home prices, the marital home you’re seeking to address may have a ton of equity, or it may be underwater (meaning you owe more than it’s currently worth.)

Often, when two spouses divorce, one will desire to keep the house. The other spouse, in order to protect him/herself, will insist that the spouse staying in the home refinance the outstanding mortgage loan to finance the property in the receiving spouse’s name only. However, given the complexities of the mortgage lending industry and the volatile value of South Florida real estate, refinancing may be easier said than done. So, you may wonder, what happens if your ex-spouse got the house, but your name is still on the mortgage? That was the quandary faced by one Palm Beach County spouse in his divorce case recently.

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When people think about the services that their skilled Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney provides, the first thing probably involves the attorney standing before a judge (or filing legal documents) to make strong and persuasive arguments that get the client to a successful outcome versus their ex-spouse or partner. Certainly, that is a big part of what your family law attorney does… but it isn’t everything. Another service is something that takes place outside court. That service is giving you the knowledgeable and unbiased advice you need to hear in order to be best equipped to make sound decisions about your case.

Take, for example, a misguided ex-husband from Kansas. D.O. and his ex-wife were involved in family litigation in a court in Iowa. The couple contested many issues, according to 850 WFTL, including property distribution, parental responsibility, timesharing and property taxes.

D.O., frustrated by the court filings submitted by his ex-wife’s lawyer, hatched a plan. He made a motion requesting permission “to settle his differences with his ex-wife by having a sword fight,” according to the report. Yes, that’s right… a sword fight… complete with authentic samurai swords imported from Japan. The husband’s motion for trial by combat stated his goal as hoping to “rend [the] souls” of his ex-wife and her lawyer “from their bodies.”

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Several experts recommend against doing business with family. A few years ago, CBS News published an article about “5 Dangers of Doing Business With Family and Friends.” Many times, though, the pull of familial love and the desire to help out a child, sibling or parent may overcome concern about those dangers.

So, what happens if you receive money from your parent while you’re married and then you and your spouse divorce? It depends of the specific facts, but many times, if that money is a loan, then it is a marital debt. If your spouse is trying to put you on the hook for paying 100% of the loan debt you received from your mom or dad, don’t give up. Fight back with a skilled and knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney.

That type of scenario actually happened to one Florida Panhandle man in his divorce case. During the marriage, the couple received $125,000 from the husband’s mother. The couple received that money after the wife, a real estate professional, discovered a condo she deemed to be a good investment and suggested that she, her husband and her mother-in-law go in on the condo together. The husband’s mother balked at buying an ownership stake in the condo, but instead allegedly decided to loan the couple $125,000 so that they could make the purchase.

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