If you are at the beginning of the Florida divorce process, one of your greatest concerns might be about your home. Who will get it? Will either of you get to keep it? Will your children be able to keep living there? The answers to these questions depend on a variety of factors. To understand the likely outcomes, it is important to have a basic grasp of how Florida divorce law works.
Property division, the part of the divorce where assets and debts are split up, is based on a concept called equitable distribution. Under this theory, a judge’s job is to divide property in a way that is fair but not necessarily even. Instead, a judge will take into account circumstances such as:
- How long you were married
- The earning ability of each spouse
- How much each spouse contributed to the marriage
- The value of each piece of property
When applying these factors to the marital home, a judge is also likely to look at whether there are children involved, which parent they will be living with, and whether selling the home is a good option. It is important to note that a judge can only divide marital property — anything owned by one party before the marriage, even real estate, is generally not part of the divorce, unless it later became jointly owned.
As an alternative to leaving this decision up to the judge, the parties can work together to reach their own agreement about property division. Things like additional property, mortgage payments, and spousal support payments are often used as bargaining chips during this process. For some couples, continuing to jointly own a home until children have grown up may be a viable option.
For help with property division issues, consult the Tampa Bay divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of K. Dean Kantaras, P.A.