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Lakeland Family & Divorce Attorney / Blog / Divorce / When Can a Florida Court Order an Unequal Division of Marital Property?

When Can a Florida Court Order an Unequal Division of Marital Property?


In a Florida divorce, assets are categorized as separate or marital property. Only marital property is subject to distribution in a Florida divorce. Generally, marital property is any property acquired by spouses during their marriage. This is true regardless of which name is indicated on the property title. However, even property acquired before a marriage can sometimes be considered marital property. For instance, when separate property is commingled with marital property, it becomes marital property. When dividing marital property during divorce, Florida courts use a rule known as “equitable distribution.” This is not the same thing as “equal distribution.” However, according to Florida law, when dividing marital property, family courts are required to begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal. A judge can only order an unequal division of marital property if, after considering all relevant factors, they find such a division warranted. In this article, we look at when a Florida court can order an unequal distribution of marital property.

Factors That Affect Distribution of Marital Assets in Florida

When determining how to distribute marital assets between divorcing spouses, Florida family courts consider various factors outlined under Florida statute 61.075. The following are some of the factors that can affect the distribution of marital property in Florida;

  • The parties’ economic circumstances
  • The input in the marriage from each party
  • Whether the marriage was short-term, moderate-term, or long-term
  • Each party’s earning capacity
  • The desirability to keep an asset
  • The contribution of one party towards the other’s education or career advancement
  • The intentional wastage of marital assets
  • The interruption of either spouse’s career or education

Once all the relevant factors have been taken into consideration, the court decides whether to order a 50/50 split or an unequal distribution.

When Can a Florida Court Order an Unequal Division of Marital Property?

The following are some of the situations in which a Florida court may order an unequal distribution of marital assets;

  • When one spouse has made a notably larger contribution of their separate property to acquire marital property. This situation is common in shorter-term marriages.
  • If one spouse has had a career disrupted or foregone educational opportunities to build their marriage or a family.
  • If a spouse has intentionally wasted, destroyed, or dissipated marital property for their own benefit during the course of the marriage.
  • If a spouse engages in misconduct, such as having an extramarital affair, and the misconduct leads to a decrease in marital assets. In such a case, an unequal division of marital assets will be aimed at compensating the “innocent” spouse.
  • If there is a notable disparity between the parties’ financial conditions.
  • If it is determined that one spouse has a permanent disability that impacts their earning capacity.

It is crucial to note that a judge cannot order an unequal distribution of marital property without providing an adequate explanation. If this happens, it can be grounds to reverse the final divorce order.

Contact a Lakeland, FL Divorce Lawyer Today

If you are going through a Florida divorce, the advocacy of a skilled divorce attorney’s advocacy can greatly benefit you. At Darla K. Snead, P.L., our qualified Lakeland divorce attorney is dedicated to providing aggressive representation to help you achieve a favorable outcome.



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