Court Examines Equitable Distribution in Florida Divorce Actions

Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that, for the most part, any assets acquired during a marriage are considered the property of both parties. Further, such property is subject to division by the courts in the event a couple decides to divorce. The courts do not have to divide marital property equally, however, but can disburse them in a manner they deem fair. Recently, a Florida court examined the process of fashioning an equitable distribution in a case in which the husband appealed the trial court’s ruling. If you are interested in learning more about how the decision to divorce could impact you financially, it is advisable to speak with a Miami divorce lawyer promptly.

Procedural Setting of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife married in 2002 and separated in August 2012. They lived apart for six years until the husband filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. The trial court conducted a trial and issued a final judgment of dissolution of marriage, which included an attached equitable distribution spreadsheet. Following the trial court’s decision, the husband filed a motion for rehearing, which was denied. The husband then appealed.

Equitable Distribution in Florida Divorce Actions

On appeal, the husband raises several issues with regard to the court’s equitable distribution, including the assertion that the trial court erred in granting the wife credit for tax liability owed by the husband.

The court explained that it reviews equitable distribution determinations for abuse of discretion. The court emphasized, however, that the distribution of marital assets and liabilities must be supported by factual findings based on evidence that is competent and substantial. In this case, the court found that the trial court’s decision to grant the tax credit to the wife lacked factual findings and was not supported by sufficient evidence.

Specifically, while the final judgment mentioned that the court valued the wife’s contributions toward the tax liability,  no evidence or findings were presented to prove that she had actually paid any amount towards it. While the wife testified that the husband did not pay the taxes or penalties incurred from his withdrawals from his IRS, which is where the tax liability arose, there was no testimony about her actual payments or the amount she paid. The husband mentioned that the parties split some tax payments at some point, but he did not provide specific details about any payments made by the wife.

Furthermore, the court noted that the tax liability credit seemed to have been derived from the wife’s equitable distribution spreadsheet, which was admitted as a demonstrative aid and not as formal evidence.

Due to the lack of factual findings and supporting evidence, the court reversed the trial court’s decision to grant the tax credit to the wife and remanded the matter to the trial court to proceed accordingly.

Consult a Capable Miami Attorney

Marital property is subject to equitable distribution in Florida divorce actions, which does not necessarily mean that it will be divided equally. If you are considering ending your marriage, it is in your best interest to consult an attorney about the best way to proceed. The capable Miami lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., have ample experience navigating complicated dissolution proceedings, and if you hire us, we will diligently pursue the best outcome available in your case. You can reach us through our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a meeting.