This is the next post in my series on the division of home equity in a Melbourne, Florida divorce. My last article discussed when Florida law determines equity to be “marital” or “separate” in nature. It is important to understand that while such issues may seem straightforward, nuances in the law can quickly complicate things. To fully understand your situation, it is strongly suggested that you speak with an attorney. In this article I will discuss another important topic – the process of disputing claims that equity should be marital or separate. If you or a loved one are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
A process known as “discovery” is vital to disputing how the other side is attempting to characterize the equity in your home. I previously discussed the use of discovery in child custody cases. These same tools are available when it comes to obtaining information related to financial issues. Interrogatories may be used to require that the other side provide written answers to written questions. Requests for Production can be used to require that the other side provide records, documents, and other physical items. Depositions can be used to take sworn testimony from the other party and additional witnesses. Finally, subpoenas may be used to obtain records from non-parties.
How discovery can be used, to dispute your spouse’s characterization of the equity in your home, is best explained through example. Say that, during the marriage, your spouse inherited $500,000. Now say, that twelve months later, you and your spouse put $250,000 down on a home and the home subsequently appreciated. Your spouse may try to claim that the down payment came from an inheritance and that the home equity should be considered separate. Under Florida law, however, that equity could be considered marital if it is shown that the inheritance was mixed or “comingled” over time with marital funds. The comingling of funds can be proven through bank statements, cancelled checks, deposit receipts, and payment receipts. Discovery is the tool by which these records can be acquired. In other words, without the discovery process, you may lack needed evidence at trial.
The type of discovery you conduct will always depend on the specific facts of your case. It is vital that you retain an attorney who is experienced in handling such matters. This will improve the chances of your case being handled correctly. As a Melbourne divorce lawyer, I am able to assist with cases involving disagreements over the division of home equity. I pride myself on providing quality service and my office is ready to assist you. Contact us today. We also service clients in the Brevard County 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.