This is the next post in a series of articles discussing divorce appeals in Melbourne, Florida. My last post provided an overview of key topics that may be appealed following the court’s initial decision. It also emphasized the importance of engaging an experienced appeals attorney to help you navigate the complicated process. This post will focus on challenging a court’s division of marital property and debt in the divorce. If you are unhappy with the outcome of your divorce and are considering an appeal, contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
Unlike many other states, Florida is not a “community property” state. This means that a court is not required to divide marital assets equally between the two spouses. In Florida, a court will determine what it believes is a fair distribution of the property after reviewing the evidence submitted by the parties. For obvious reasons, one or both parties may disagree with the court’s determination of what constitutes marital property or the fairness of the court’s award of the marital property or marital debts. If the court has made a mistake in its division or incorrectly applied the law to the facts of the case, a party may be able to appeal the determination.
With some limited exceptions, property and debts acquired by a couple during their marriage will be considered marital property and will therefore be divided as part of a divorce. If a party comes into the marriage with property or debts, these items are not typically marital property. If one spouse inherits or is gifted an asset during the marriage this will also not be considered joint property. Each person will need to provide evidence to the court to support whether an item should be treated as an individual or marital asset. If an individual disagrees with the ultimate determination, this matter may be appealed. Other common appealable issues include failing to identify marital property during the proceeding (whether purposely or by mistake) or a simple math error by the court in the property award.
A determination about whether something is jointly owned can become complicated if the couple intermingled their marital funds with non-marital property. For example, if a wife has an investment account worth $100,000 prior to the marriage, this would not be considered marital property and would ordinarily remain with the wife following the divorce. Certain actions during the marriage could convert the account to marital property. Suppose, for example, the couple withdraws $50,000 from the account to buy a home. Now suppose that both spouses make further investments into the account and the investment grows over time. The home purchased together will be considered a marital asset. The intermingling of the invested funds may also result in the court deciding that the account is also a marital asset. If the wife can demonstrate that the court incorrectly considered the investment account to be joint property, she may appeal that issue.
Divorce can create stressful uncertainties about your finances. Because your financial future may hinge on the division of property, it is essential to consult with an attorney familiar with this area of law. If you need assistance in a divorce appeal, contact my office today speak with a lawyer.
My office serves clients in the cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.