A division of property and assets case was recently decided by the Florida Court of Appeal in a case captioned O’Neill v. O’Neill. In this case, the Husband appealed the equitable distribution award issued by the trial court. The lower court improperly included in the division of property and assets an automobile that was no longer in the Wife’s possession, failed to consider the loan balance in valuing the Husband’s car, and failed to properly value the parties’ investment accounts.

First, the Florida Court of Appeal ruled that it was improper to include in the equitable distribution award a vehicle that the Wife no longer possessed. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded the case back to the trial court to recalculate its equitable distribution award.

Second, the trial court improperly valued the Husband’s BMW. At trial, the Husband testified that his automobile had a negative equity of $6,000. The Florida Court of Appeal ruled that the lower court should have included the outstanding debt on the vehicle in calculating its value. Therefore, the appellate court reversed the trial court on this matter.

Third, with respect to the division of property and assets, the trial court valued a financial account that the parties owned on the date that the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage was filed, rather than on the trial date. At the time that the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage was filed, the account balance was $30,457. On the date that the matter was heard, the account balance was $4,902. The evidence at trial showed that the Husband used the account to pay bills and travel expenses for work. The Court of Appeal ruled that unless the trial court found that the Husband engaged in misconduct in the manner in which he expended the marital funds, the trial court improperly included depleted assets in its division of marital property. The Court of Appeal reversed the Final Judgment and directed the trial court to use the value of the parties’ account on the trial date.

Finally, the Husband argued that the trial court improperly required him to maintain life insurance to secure his alimony obligation. The Florida Court of Appeal stated that a party may be required to maintain life insurance when evidence is presented as to the cost of the insurance, its availability, the payor’s ability to purchase the insurance, and special circumstances that warrant the need to secure the alimony obligation. Since sufficient evidence was not presented to the lower court on this point, the Court of Appeal reversed this portion of the Final Judgment.

To speak with a divorce attorney in Boca Raton, Florida, contact the Lane Law Firm, P.A. at (561) 363-3400.