Reasons for Unequal Division

As an equitable distribution state, Florida courts attempt to divide marital property in a divorce so that the distribution is fair. That is the guiding principle. Equitable, however, should not be confused as equal. A fair division will not always be an equal division and vice versa. It is not uncommon, however, for an equitable division to mean that there is an equal split of marital assets in a Florida divorce. The question then becomes, why would a court find for an unequal division of the marital assets?

Reasons for Unequal Division

In a divorce, the assets of the spouses will be categorized as either marital or separate property. Most of the time, assets acquired over the course of the marriage will be deemed marital property and, thus, will be divisible in the event of divorce. Separate property, on the other hand, will not be divided and will remain under the ownership of the one spouse who claims an ownership interest in the asset.

Now, back to the principle of “equitable” versus “equal.” Florida courts do not attempt to split the marital property down the middle for an equal distribution. Instead, the courts weigh a number of factors and attempt to divide the marital property in order to make the division equitable or “fair.” So, reasons for an unequal division of marital assets lie in the factors that Florida family courts weigh when considering how to see equity done in the division of the marital property. In consideration of “fair” under the circumstances, after weighing these factors, the court may unequally divide the marital assets.

The duration of the marriage can be a significant factor when considering how to fairly divide the marital property and is frequently taken into consideration in tandem with other relevant factors. For instance, in a short-term marriage, a court is much more likely to disproportionately divide the marital assets when one of the spouses has made a notably larger contribution of nonmarital property to acquire property during the marriage. Conversely, over the course of a longer-term marriage, a spouse is more likely to have had a personal career disrupted or foregone opportunities for professional advancement in the name of building a family or maintaining a household. These missed opportunities and contributions to the family unit and the advancement of the other spouse’s career will be taken into consideration when dividing the marital property.

Spousal misconduct or the intentional waste of marital assets will also be a factor considered and could very well justify an unequal distribution of the marital assets. If a spouse has been found to have intentionally destroyed or wasted marital assets for personal gain and at the expense of the other spouse, then the court may consider an unequal division in rectifying such wrongdoing.

The court will also consider the relative economic positions as well as each spouse’s ability to work in order to maintain a lifestyle comparable to that which was enjoyed during the marriage. This means that the economic situations of each spouse will be considered, including the earning capacity and financial resources of each. The physical and mental abilities of each spouse will also be considered as this can have a significant impact on the earning ability of a person.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

Division of the marital assets in a divorce can have a significant and far-reaching impact on the financial state of a person long after a divorce has been finalized. Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou is here to fight and protect your best interests throughout the entire process. Contact us today.

About the Author
Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew and his partner, Ophelia Bernal-Mora, Esq., B.C.S., joined forces in March 2016 to form the unique and boutique husband and wife family law team at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. Together, Andrew and Ophelia take a practical and team-based approach to all of their cases and clients to deliver the highest quality experience and representation.