There is no standard answer on what happens to a couple’s house when they go through a divorce in Florida. The marital assets go through a process of equitable distribution, in which the property is divided in half, except where fairness calls for a different type of split. At the end of this process, one spouse may get to remain in the house, or the couple may be ordered to sell the home and split the proceeds.
A divorcing couple can avoid the uncertainty of allowing a judge to distribute the property by drafting a settlement themselves. If they cannot do so, they can negotiate with the guidance of a Stuart divorce attorney or participate in mediation with a neutral third party. Agreeing to property division outside of court can also be beneficial because it helps parties regain a sense of control in an otherwise tumultuous time. However, not all couples can reach an agreement, leaving the division in the hands of a judge.
How Is Property Divided in Florida?
There are two types of property at issue in a Florida divorce: marital property and separate property. Separate property is property that either spouse acquired before marriage, and it is not divided; the spouse who brought it into the marriage retains full rights to it after the divorce. Marital property is property that was acquired by either person during the marriage, and it is generally divided equally between the spouses unless fairness dictates that it be divided unequally.
Under the process of equitable distribution, once the court determines which property is marital and which is separate, it assigns values to the marital assets and then divides it equally unless special circumstances call for a different division.
Factors justifying unequal distribution can include the economic footing of each spouse, what contributions they made to the marriage (including sacrifices that they made for the other spouse), how long they were married, whether either spouse wasted assets after the divorce papers were filed, and how selling the marital home would impact children of the marriage.
Equitable Division of a House in Florida
If one spouse bought their home and paid it off before the marriage, it may be separate property that the purchasing spouse keeps. However, if the other spouse made payments toward the house or was added to the title, the house may be subject to equitable distribution, which may or may not be a 50/50 division depending on the circumstances.
If the house is to be divided, one spouse (often the primary caregiver if the couple has children) will stay in the home while the other spouse receives other property to balance the division. One spouse may agree to buy out the other spouse’s interest in the house or they may sell it and split the proceeds. It is a good idea to consult with legal or real estate professionals to ensure that title, mortgage, and other issues are accounted for in any transactions.
Speak with a Stuart Divorce Lawyer
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Travis R. Walker, P.A. offer a combined 125+ years of experience representing individuals, families, and businesses in their personal and work-related legal matters. We serve the Treasure Coat, offering sound advice and strong representation for those going through a divorce. Contact us today or at your convenience to schedule a confidential consultation to find out how we can help you.