A case involving the unequal distribution of marital assets was recently decided by the Florida Court of Appeal. In a case captioned Chatten v. Chatten, the husband appealed a final judgment of dissolution of marriage that awarded the wife an unequal division of the parties’ marital assets. The husband argued that the trial court improperly granted an unequal division of property and assets to the wife. The Florida Court of Appeal agreed and reversed the trial court’s ruling.
In this case, the husband and wife owned two pieces of property. The first piece of property was located in Battlefield, Missouri. The second piece of property was a home in Vero Beach, Florida. The wife contributed $30,000.00 to the down payment on the Florida home. Additionally, the wife paid $11,000.00 to furnish the Vero Beach, Florida home. Both of these payments came from funds that that the wife inherited. Additionally, the wife used funds from her IRA to purchase the Missouri property. Both properties had mortgages on them. The mortgage on the Vero Beach home was significantly less than the mortgage on the Missouri property.
The trial court awarded the Vero Beach home to the wife, and awarded the Missouri property to the husband. The trial court also ordered the wife to pay $40,000 to the husband. This constituted an unequal division of the parties’ marital property in favor of the wife. The husband received $95,373 in assets, and the wife received $216,606 in assets. The trial court justified this award because the wife contributed to the purchase of the Vero Beach home.