Court Examines Marital Versus Separate Assets in Florida Divorce Actions

Pursuant to Florida law, when a couple divorces, their marital assets are subject to equitable distribution, while their separate assets remain separate. The distribution process can become complicated, however, if the parties mingle separate and joint assets throughout their marriage. This was demonstrated in a recent case in which a Florida court analyzed whether a home purchased prior to marriage was solely separate property or whether any part of it constituted a marital assets. If you want to end your marriage or were served with divorce papers, it is smart to confer with a Miami divorce attorney about what measures you can take to protect your interests.

History of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife were married for over 20 years before the husband for divorce in 2019. The husband and his mother purchased a home three years before the marriage that the husband and wife lived in throughout the marriage. The title of the house remained in the husband’s and his mother’s names.

Allegedly, the value of the house increased to $1.25 million, which was approximately $800,000 more than the husband paid for it. The parties disagreed as to whether the increase in value could be attributed to passive appreciation or active appreciation. The trial court ultimately found that the house was a marital asset subject to equitable distribution, credited the husband the purchase amount, and equitably divided the remaining value of the home. The husband appealed.

Marital Versus Separate Assets in Florida Divorce Actions

On appeal, the court ultimately rejected the trial court’s ruling that the husband intended to donate the home to the marital estate but nonetheless found that the trial court’s ruling with regard to equitable distribution was correct.

In doing so, the court analyzed the issue of whether the appreciation in the home’s value was properly considered a marital asset for the purposes of equitable distribution. The court noted that the wife demonstrated that marital labor and funds were used to improve the home throughout the marriage.

As such, the burden shifted to the husband to prove that any part of the enhanced value was exempt from distribution due to purely passive appreciation of the original asset. As the husband failed to meet this burden of proof, the court found that the trial court correctly determined that the appreciation in the home was a marital asset subject to equitable distribution.

Consult a Capable Miami Attorney

The division of property is often a contentious issue in divorce actions and, in many instances, is a legally complex issue. If you have questions about how the dissolution of your marriage may impact your assets, it is prudent to consult an attorney as soon as possible. The capable Miami lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. can assess the facts of your case and gather the evidence needed to provide you with a strong chance of a favorable result. We have an office in Aventura, and we often aid parties in divorce actions in Miami. You can contact us via our online form or at 800-596-0579 to schedule a meeting.

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