Florida is an equitable distribution state, and only property that has been acquired during the course of the marriage is defined as marital property and subject to division following divorce. If one spouse owned the property before the marriage or acquired it during the marriage as a gift, (not including gifts from the other spouse) or an inheritance, it may be considered non-marital property. In short, the court divides up the value of the marital property equitably between the spouses and the non-marital property will likely remain with the spouse that acquired the asset. That sounds pretty clear cut, but is it really? No, it is not! Here are some of the “exceptions” or “circumstances” that make things a little more murky and an explanation of how, in general, the situation regarding the home is seen by the courts:
If the house was purchased or otherwise acquired during the marriage, it is most always considered marital property. It does not matter if the house was acquired by one or both spouses. or whose name is on the deed or mortgage.
When a house is acquired and owned by one spouse before the marriage and that spouse’s name is the only name on the mortgage, it gets a little bit trickier. If after marriage the two spouses both spent a considerable amount of money improving and adding to the value of that house or paying the mortgage, the house appreciation/equity could be considered marital property. The pre-marital value may belong to the spouse who owned the house before the marriage, but the non-ownership spouse may be awarded a portion of the equity that has accumulated. Sometimes that equity value is a difficult number to ascertain. However there are various formulas to use once the mortgage and value of the house at the time of the marriage, as well as the value of the house at the time of divorce, have all been determined.
A good rule of thumb is that if you are the owner of the premarital home, do not put your spouse’s name on the house if you do not want to divide it equitably with him or her should you divorce. If you place your spouse’s name on the house, it may become a marital asset, regardless of the original ownership, and you may have just given your spouse a very generous gift.
Still Have Questions?
As you can see, while we have discussed some generalities, it is not always easy to clearly define marital versus non-marital properties. Other circumstances in the marriage may also be taken into consideration as to what “equitable” may mean, and those situations can be explored as to their relevance when negotiating for a settlement. In addition you may have other concerns about how to keep the marital home after the divorce, or how to immediately obtain your equity. There are so many other extenuating circumstances that can influence or forfeit rights to the home as an asset for equitable distribution. The attorneys of Glenn and Phanco, P.A. work together with some of the top real estate professionals to ensure that your asset is protected specifically for your unique circumstances. If you are considering divorce, call the family law attorneys of Glenn & Phanco, P.A. today to discuss your unique circumstances. We will discuss your case with you in detail and counsel you on how to proceed!
Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to provide advice or legal information. All facts, information, and data provided on this blog is for informational purposes only as well as to give general information and a general understanding of the law, and not to provide specific legal advice. By reading this blog you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. This blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.