A trial court is responsible for properly distributing the assets and liabilities accrued by spouses during their marriage. In a dissolution of marriage proceeding, Florida law requires that a court: Set apart to each spouse that spouses non-marital assets and liabilities, and in distributing the marital assets and liabilities between the parties, the court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution based on all relevant factors, including:
a) The contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as homemaker.
b) The economic circumstances of the parties.
c) The duration of the marriage.
d) Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party.
(e) The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other spouse.
f) The desirability of retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, corporation, or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party.
g) The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the non-marital assets of the parties.
h) The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent child of the marriage, or any other party, when it would be equitable to do so, it is in the best interest of the child or that party, and it is financially feasible for the parties to maintain the residence until the child is emancipated or until exclusive possession is otherwise terminated by a court of competent jurisdiction. In making this determination, the court shall first determine if it would be in the interest of the dependent child to remain in the marital home; and, if not, whether other equities would be served by giving any other party exclusive use and possession of the marital home.
i) The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of martial assets after the filing of the petition or within two yearsprior to the filing of the petition.
(j) Any other factors necessary to do equity injustice between the parties.
All of this can be found in Florida Statue 61.075 (1). Florida Law is heavily biased in favor of equal distribution of marital assets and liabilities. If distribution is not equal, a court must make findings to say why. The Florida Legislature added a clear rule with a strong presumption in favor of equal distribution of marital property and thereby to bring determinacy and predictability to the marital property division. This rule is not to be casually dispensed with by simply saying “the unequal division in the case is more just and equitable”. Unequal distribution must find their authority in specifics facts relating to the statutory factors rather than in generalized notions of equity. An unequal distribution cannot be awarded based solely on one spouse’s disproportionate financial contributions.
Kenny Leigh & Associates is a Florida law firm specializing in men’s rights and family law. Go to divorcemenonly.com to learn more.