Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A.
Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach And Wellington, Florida Offices 561-328-1095

Division of Property and Assets Archives

The Division of Property and Assets in Jupiter, Florida

The Division of Property and Assets statute in Florida classifies property as marital assets and nonmarital assets. A divorce court divides marital assets between the parties. However, nonmarital assets are retained by their owner. When a nonmarital asset is enhanced in value by marital labor or by marital money, the enhancement in value itself becomes a marital asset. In a recently decided case captioned Higgins v. Musso, the wife received a home as part of her divorce from her first husband. She borrowed money from her parents to buy out her first husband's interest in the property. The wife's mother filed a lien on the property which proved that the wife borrowed money to purchase and renovate the home. The wife also utilized marital funds to fix the property after it was damaged by two hurricanes. The wife painted the ceiling, installed new carpet, and put in a new roof. Insurance proceeds paid for some of the repairs. The parties took out a line of credit to build the marital home and took out a loan to repay the line of credit. The home sold for over a million dollars. The sale proceeds were deposited into a bank account. The trial court ruled that the entire proceeds from the sale of the home were marital assets.

Division of Property and Assets in Florida

In a recent division of property and assets case, captioned Gotro v. Gotro the Florida Court of Appeal held that a trial court should not include expended assets in an equitable distribution scheme unless these assets were dissipated as a result of one of the parties' misconduct. In this case, the parties had a 39 year marriage and had 4 adult children. The husband was the primary breadwinner. The husband had a number of bank accounts which were marital assets. The significant bank accounts, for purposes of this appeal, were two accounts at BBVA Compass Bank. By the time that the final hearing took place, the balances in these two bank accounts was significantly lower than they had been at the time of the filing of the divorce. The husband testified that he had used the money in these accounts for his living expenses. The husband requested that the trial court distribute these accounts based upon their value at the time of the final hearing and not as of the date of the filing of the dissolution of marriage. In fashioning its final judgment, the trial court used the values in the accounts as of the date of the filing of the divorce.

Division of Property and Assets in Wellington, Florida

The division of property and assets in a Florida divorce begins with the division of the parties' assets into two categories, marital assets and liabilities and nonmarital assets and liabilities. Marital assets are those assets accumulated during the marriage by the parties from their work, earnings and services. In determining whether property is a marital asset, the question is not which party holds title to the asset. The trial court divides the marital assets and liabilities between the parties. In a recently decided case captioned Hooker v. Hooker, the Florida Supreme Court stated that although the trial judge possesses discretion to reach an equitable distribution of the parties' marital assets, there is a presumption that an even division is equitable, unless one of the parties shows otherwise.

Division of Property and Assets in Wellington, Florida

The division of property and assets in a Marital Settlement Agreement can be contested in two ways. The first basis to challenge a Marital Settlement Agreement is for fraud, coercion or misrepresentation. The second basis to challenge a Martial Settlement Agreement is for unfairness. In a recent case captioned Hall v. Hall the Florida Court of Appeal stated that a Marital Settlement Agreement could be set aside for fraud, duress, misrepresentation, or coercion. The second basis for setting aside a Martial Settlement Agreement contains three elements. First, the spouse that wants to set aside the agreement must prove that the Martial Settlement Agreement is unfair to the recipient spouse in light of the parties' financial circumstances. The trial court will then look at the financial situation of the parties, their ages, their education and their health. The trial court may then decide that the agreement is unfair to the recipient spouse in light of the payor spouse's financial circumstances.

In a Divorce, what happens to gifts and inheritances from Parents

 In a division of property and assets case, gifts from your parents may end up belonging to your spouse if the proceeds are comingled with marital assets. In Dravis v. Dravis the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated that: Although non interspousal gifts and inheritances, like those from a parent, are usually treated as nonmarital assets, see § 61.075(6)(b)(2), this can change. Nonmarital assets may lose their nonmarital character and become marital assets where they are commingled with marital assets. This is especially true with respect to money because money is fungible, and once commingled it loses its separate character. Money loses its nonmarital character when it is commingled with marital money. Where gift proceeds are commingled with proceeds that are marital assets, the gifts may lose their nonmarital character and, as a matter of law, become marital assets subject to equitable distribution.

Division of Property and Assets in a Divorce in North Palm Beach

The division of property and assets in a Florida divorce proceeding is governed by Florida Statute § 61.075. Florida Statute § 61.075 states that: "In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, in addition to all other remedies available to a court to do equity between the parties, or in a proceeding for disposition of assets following a dissolution of marriage by a court which lacked jurisdiction over the absent spouse or lacked jurisdiction to dispose of the assets, the court shall set apart to each spouse that spouse's nonmarital 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..." In Byers v. Byers, the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated that bonus checks earned during the course of the marriage are to be valued and are to be included in the marital estate for purposes of making an equitable distribution. This case involved two bonus checks that were earned by the Husband while he worked at Regions Bank during the course of the marriage. 

Division of Property and Assets in North Palm Beach, Florida

To modify a division of property and assets, there must be a specific reservation of jurisdiction in the final judgment to make a later adjudication of property rights. In Daoud v. Daoud the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated: "Dora S. Daoud, the former wife, raises four issues in this appeal of a contempt order resulting from her failure to comply with the final judgment dissolving her marriage to Khader Daoud, the former husband. We find merit in her challenge of the trial court's modification of property rights previously adjudicated in the dissolution judgment, and reverse and remand on that issue. We affirm without comment the balance of the appealed order.

Division of Property and Assets in Jupiter, Florida

In cases involving the division of property and assets, the Court will identify and value all marital assets. Debts to cover nonmarital expenses should not be classified and allocated as marital debts. "Section 61.075(3), Florida Statutes (2012), requires the trial court to identify and value all marital assets and liabilities. Distribution of the marital assets and liabilities must be supported by factual findings in the judgment or order based on competent, substantial evidence. Kovalchick v. Kovalchick, 841 So. 2d 669, 679 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003). We review such findings for an abuse of discretion. See Steele v. Steele, 945 So. 2d 601, 602 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006). However, we review de novo the trial court's legal conclusion that an asset or liability is "marital" or "nonmarital," as defined in the statute. Mondello v. Torres, 47 So. 3d 389, 392 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010)

Division of Property and Assets in Wellington, FL

With respect to a division of property and assets, where a party inherits assets and they are placed into an account where they are commingled and are not traceable, it is presumed that a gift is intended and they are considered to be a marital asset. In Sorgen v. Sorgen the Florida court of Appeal recently stated: "We agree with the husband's argument that, because the proceeds from the sale of the home ultimately were commingled into the parties' joint account, the wife's one-third interest in the proceeds from the sale of the home became a marital asset subject to equitable distribution. 'In evaluating assets that come to one spouse by inheritance, the task for the trial court in a dissolution proceeding is to determine whether the recipient intended that the assets remain non-marital or whether the recipient's conduct during the marriage gives rise to the presumption of a gift to the other spouse." Lakin v. Lakin, 901 So. 2d 186,190 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005).

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