Court Discusses the Division of Cost of Living Adjustments in Florida Divorces

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.

Cost of Living Adjustments in Florida Divorces

On appeal, the husband argued that the final judgment of dissolution did not mention a cost of living adjustment as a marital asset that was subject to division, and therefore, the QDRO should not have included cost of living adjustment provisions. The court noted that the Florida Statutes state, in relevant part, that any nonvested or vested right, fund, or benefit accrued during a marriage in a pension, retirement, prof-sharing, deferred compensation, insurance, or annuity program or plan constitutes a marital asset that is subject to equitable distribution. The court further explained that cost of living adjustments falls under the umbrella of such benefits. As such, it upheld the QDRO.

Talk to a Seasoned Miami Attorney

Pursuant to Florida’s equitable distribution law, parties in divorce actions have the right to a fair share of retirement benefits and may be entitled to cost of living adjustments as well. If you intend to end your marriage, it is important to understand the financial ramifications of seeking a divorce, and it is smart to talk to an attorney. The seasoned lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. can advise you of your options and help you to seek the best legal outcome possible under the facts of your case. We have an office in Aventura, and we frequently represent parties in divorce proceedings in Miami. You can contact us through our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a conference.