Court Explains Equitable Distribution Under Florida Law

Married couples typically accrue assets during the course of their marriage, and if they decide to part ways, how such property should be divided is often one of the biggest points of contention. Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means the courts do not have to divide marital assets equally, but in a manner they deem fit. Regardless of whether a court distributes property in an equal or unequal way, it must provide a factual basis for its decision, and if it does not, the decision may be overturned. This was demonstrated recently in a Florida opinion issued in a divorce action. If you intend to end your marriage, it is in your best interest to speak to a Florida divorce attorney regarding your rights.

The History of the Case

Allegedly, the parties married in 2002. Two minor children were born during their marriage. The husband was a member of the United States Armed Services until he was honorably discharged in 2017 due to mental and physical impairments caused by multiple accidents. He was deemed 100% disabled by the Veterans Administration and granted disability benefits.

It is reported that later that year, the wife filed for divorce. The husband remained in the marital home while the wife took the children and moved in with her parents. Both parties sought equitable distribution of the assets and filed an equitable distribution worksheet. The husband asked that he be permitted to keep the marital home in exchange for assuming the mortgage, while the wife requested that the home be sold and the proceeds divided. The court issued a final judgment in which it largely adopted the husband’s proposed distribution of assets and liabilities but ordered the marital home to be sold. The husband appealed.

Equitable Distribution Under Florida Law

The Florida courts review equitable distribution awards under an abuse of discretion standard. The appellate court explained that the final distribution of marital assets must be supported by evidence that is competent and substantial, regardless of whether they are distributed equally or unequally. Pursuant to Florida law, the courts must begin with the premise that distribution should be equal unless there are grounds for an unequal distribution on consideration of all relevant factors.

To validate an unequal distribution, a court must include findings of fact in its final judgment that support its decision. Thus, if a court fails to make findings of fact that justify its decision, it is generally grounds for reversal. Here, the appellate court noted that the trial court did not set forth any factual determinations that would support an unequal distribution in its final judgment. As such, the appellate court remanded the matter to the trial court for further proceedings.

Meet with an Experienced Florida Attorney

Divorce not only impacts people emotionally, but it also has significant financial consequences, and it is important for anyone contemplating seeking a dissolution to understand the potential economic ramifications of their decision. If you intend to end your marriage, the experienced Florida divorce lawyers of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. can assist you in seeking the best legal result available in consideration of the facts of your case. You can reach us by calling 800-283-7442 or by using our form online to schedule a meeting.



Contact Information