When Do Florida Courts Order an Unequal Division of Marital Property?
In Florida, marital property is equitably distributed between the divorcing parties. However, equitable does not mean equal, which is why family law courts may order an unequal division.
All assets and debts that the parties acquire in the course of their marriage are considered “divisible” marital property. Any assets that cannot be classified as “marital” are regarded as separate property of the spouse who acquired it. Non-marital – or separate – property is not subject to property division in Florida.
Does ‘Equitable’ Mean Unequal?
The term “equitable” is often confused with “equal.” However, just because courts divide marital assets “equitably” does not necessarily mean that you will receive an equal share of the assets after a Florida divorce.
Instead, Florida courts review a multitude of factors to divide marital property in a way that is fair under the unique circumstances of the case. In some cases, either spouse may end up with an “unequal division” of marital property. In some cases, an uneven division may be considered “equitable.”
When performing equitable distribution of marital property, Florida courts consider the economic circumstances of the spouses, the length of the marriage, the contribution to the marriage by each spouse, as well as any interruption of personal careers of either party, among other factors.
Factors for Ordering an Unequal Division of Property
A Florida court may unequally distribute marital property between the divorcing parties after determining that such a division is fair under the circumstances. The following five factors are often associated with Florida courts justifying an uneven division of marital property upon divorce.
- Disproportionately large contributions. In short-term marriages, a court may award more marital property to one spouse than the other when the former contributed a disproportionately large amount of their non-marital assets to acquire the property.
- The intentional dissipation, wasting or destroying of marital assets. When one spouse intentionally wastes, dissipates, or destroyed marital assets for their own benefit at the expense of their spouse, a Florida court may order an unequal division of property.
- Spousal misconduct. Florida courts are more likely to divide marital property unequally when the fault of either spouse results in a reduction in marital assets. An uneven division is a way to compensate the disadvantaged spouse for their spouse’s misconduct.
- The economic situation of the spouses. A noticeable disparity in the spouses’ financial conditions may prompt the court to order an unequal division of property in favor of the lower-earning spouse or the party with fewer resources.
- Physical and mental abilities. Florida courts also consider the physical and mental abilities of each party to justify an uneven distribution of marital property. For example, if one spouse has a permanent disability while the other spouse has a high earning potential, the court may order an unequal division in favor of the disabled spouse.
Contact an Orlando family attorney to estimate how marital property would be divided in your particular case. Call our lawyers at Donna Hung Law Group for a case evaluation. Call at 407-999-0099.