One of the many difficult decisions divorcing couples face, involves what to do with the their single most valuable marital asset- the marital home. Few questions present such a tightly woven blend of emotional and financial issues. As the repository of family memory and of nearly all the tangible personal property of the parties, the home often represents much more than its appraised value. Dividing and distributing the home brings up many questions including security and consistency for the minor children and maximizing the liquidity or cash flow against the cost of maintaining the asset in the future.
Our clients often ask if they will be penalized during the divorce for “abandoning” the home, if they separate and need to set up housekeeping in another location. Florida does not recognize abandonment of marital property. The home is subject to equitable distribution per statute. While the Court may order that the party with majority timeshare for the minor children stay in the home if it is their best interest, the parties can agree to a variety of scenarios to obtain a fair distribution. If the parties cannot agree on how to divide the home, the Court may order a sale with an appropriate division of the net proceeds to follow.
Equitable distribution of the marital home is a complex subject, especially when a third party lender holds a mortgage or note on the property. Divorcing couples are often shocked that the bank will not automatically remove their name from the note after the final judgment. Issues of credit preservation by way of re-financing may come into play.
Creativity, along with knowledge of the case law and statutory authority, are essential requirements in distributing the marital home. Be sure to discuss your rights as well as the implications and responsibilities of assuming ownership of the marital home with an experienced family law attorney. Call 386.257.1222 to set up a consultation.
Posted March 17, 2015