Articles Posted in Equitable Distribution

Under Florida law, while marital property is subject to equitable distribution in a divorce action, separate property is not; instead, it remains the property of the spouse to whom it belongs. Challenges in determining the nature of property can arise, however, when a party mingles separate and marital assets, as illustrated in a recent Florida divorce action in which the parties disagreed over whether a boat was a marital asset subject to equitable distribution. If you wish to seek a divorce, it is prudent to talk to a Miami divorce lawyer to determine how the end of your marriage may impact your property rights.

History of the Case

It is reported that the husband and the wife were married for eighteen years. After the court issued a final judgment of dissolution, the wife filed an appeal, arguing in part that the trial court erred in determining that a boat was the husband’s separate property for the purposes of equitable distribution.

Separate Versus Marital Property

On appeal, the court adopted the wife’s reasoning and reversed the trial court ruling. The court noted that the trial court determined that the boat in question was the husband’s separate property because the husband paid for it with funds he received from his father’s trust. The wife argued, however, that the husband could not prove that the boat was a separate asset because it was bought with money that was commingled with marital funds in the couple’s joint bank account. Continue reading ›

In Florida, the courts look unkindly at one party deliberately wasting community assets during a divorce or the downfall of a marriage. As such, if they find that one party has dissipated marital assets, it may negatively impact their property rights in the context of a divorce. In a recent Florida ruling, a court analyzed whether the cost of one party’s lawsuit filed prior to divorce constituted dissipation, ultimately ruling that it did not. If you or your spouse want to end your marriage, it is in your best interest to meet with a skilled Miami divorce attorney.

Background of the Case

It is reported that in 2015, the husband was fired for cause by his employer. After his termination, the employer ordered the husband to repay the bonus he received pursuant to his employment contract. The husband declined and filed a lawsuit against the employer. Ultimately, judgment was entered against the husband. He satisfied the judgment against him using marital assets.

It is alleged that the wife filed for divorce two years later. For purposes of equitable distribution, the court found that the husband engaged in misconduct at work and used marital property to pay the judgment against him without the wife’s consent or knowledge. Thus, it found that it constituted misconduct and assigned it to the husband and reduced the amount of assets he received via equitable distribution. The husband appealed. Continue reading ›

Under Florida law, any community property is subject to equitable division by the courts in a divorce action. Typically, pension benefits and any other retirement benefits accrued during a marriage constitute community property. Additionally, parties are entitled division of cost of living adjustments under Florida law as well. Recently, a Florida court clarified whether a party that is awarded a portion of a spouse’s pension in a deferred retirement option program  (DROP) is entitled to a cost of living adjustment, even if the DROP account is not created until after the divorce is final. If you want to learn more about how ending your marriage may impact you financially, it is in your best interest to speak to a Miami divorce attorney promptly.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the husband and the wife married in 1999. In 2014, the husband filed for divorce. The following year, the court entered a final judgment of divorce that included provisions regarding the equitable distribution of the husband’s pension with the state retirement system. The provisions stated, in part, that the marital estate was distributed equally between the parties and that a QDRO must be prepared with regard to the husband’s retirement pension.

Allegedly, the court entered a QRDO that awarded the wife half of the husband’s retirement benefits that accrued from the date of the marriage to the date the divorce action was filed, to be taken as a deduction from each monthly benefit payable to the husband from the pension plan. One of the paragraphs of the QDRO provided for a proportionate share of any cost of living adjustment the husband received. The husband objected to the cost of living adjustment at the trial level. He then appealed. Continue reading ›

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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