For many couples, the family home is the single biggest asset acquired during marriage. When couples divorce, that home can often be a major point of contention. Both spouses want to ensure they receive a fair share of the home. Sometimes, both spouses want to retain possession of the home. Other times, they just want to ensure that their portion of equity is appropriate, given their investment in the property.
Even if you have a prenuptial agreement on record, there is no way to predict how the courts will rule on possession of the home. The courts may not uphold any clause in a prenuptial agreement that unfairly favors one spouse. They can also adjust proposed asset division terms to reflect the current situation of the couple. Knowing Florida law about divorce and the division of assets is the best way to predict what will happen to your home.
Florida courts focus on a fair and equitable outcome
When it comes to asset division in Florida divorces, the guiding principle for the courts is an equitable and fair division of assets. Equitable may not inherently mean a 50/50 split of all assets. Instead, it is meant to be fair when the courts factor in considerations such as earning potential, the length of the marriage, the needs of each spouse and any custody arrangements for minor children.
In general, the marital home is subject to division. Regardless of who earned more money or who paid the mortgage, the home's equity built up during marriage is likely marital property, meaning both spouses jointly own that equity. The courts will do their best to fairly divide that valuable asset between spouses.
Temporary housing and custody arrangements can influence the outcome
When there are children involved in a divorce, the courts usually focus on them to the best of their ability. That usually means that the best interests of the children come before everything else when setting custody and support arrangements. However, custody and living arrangements for minor children can also have an impact on how the courts handle division of the family home.
If the children and one parent have remained in the family home during the divorce proceedings, the courts may consider that when deciding what to do with the property. They will want to minimize the changes and disruption the children must deal with as a result of the divorce. If one parent retains the home and lives there with the children, he or she will most likely need to refinance to pay the other spouse a portion of the equity in the property.
Other times, the courts may offset one spouse's share of the equity in the home with other valuable considerations, such as retirement accounts or valuable, non-monetary assets. When facing a divorce, you should prepare yourself for the possibility that the courts could order the sale of the home or allow your spouse to live there instead of you. Preparing yourself mentally for the variety of possible outcomes can help make the outcome less surprising.