Yaffa Family Law Group
By: Doreen Yaffa

Can I Keep the Home?

Agreements, Divorce

Divorce, especially in high-net-worth family law cases, brings forth a myriad of challenges, and the fate of the marital home often sits at the center of these complexities. In the intricate landscape of Florida family law, understanding the factors that determine property distribution is crucial for those seeking clarity amid the dissolution of marriage. This blog delves into the nuances of Florida family law, shedding light on the considerations that decide who gets to keep the home, the implications involved, and strategies for securing this significant asset.

  • Equitable Distribution Principle:

Florida operates under the principle of equitable distribution, which means that marital assets and debts are divided fairly, though not necessarily equally. The court considers various factors to determine what is fair, just, and reasonable based on each spouse’s contributions and needs.

  • Marital vs. Non-Marital Assets:

Identifying marital and non-marital assets is crucial. Non-marital assets, acquired before marriage or through inheritance, might be excluded from equitable distribution while marital assets acquired during the marriage would be included in equitable distribution. For example, the marital home, if acquired during the marriage, is generally considered a marital asset. 

Factors Influencing Home Distribution:

  • Primary Caregiver Consideration: In cases where one spouse has served as the primary caregiver for the children, the court may prioritize awarding them the marital home. This decision stems from a desire to maintain stability and provide a familiar environment for the children amidst the tumult of divorce. By allowing the primary caregiver to remain in the marital home, the court seeks to minimize disruption to the children’s lives, recognizing the profound impact that stability and continuity can have on their well-being.

  • Financial Contributions: The financial landscape of the marriage plays a pivotal role in determining the distribution of the marital home. The court carefully evaluates the financial contributions of each spouse, considering factors such as who contributed to the acquisition, maintenance, and improvement of the home. This comprehensive assessment ensures that the distribution of the marital home reflects the equitable division of marital assets, taking into account the financial investments made by each party throughout the course of the marriage.

  • Income Disparities: Income disparities between spouses can significantly influence the distribution of the marital home. In cases where one spouse earns substantially less than the other, the court may opt to award them the home as a means of offsetting financial imbalances. However, it’s important to note that the court will also consider which spouse is better suited to afford the ongoing expenses associated with homeownership. This careful evaluation ensures that the distribution of the marital home is not only equitable but also sustainable in the long run, taking into account the financial realities of both parties.
  • Needs and Circumstances: Ultimately, the distribution of the marital home is guided by the individual needs and circumstances of each spouse. The court aims to achieve a distribution that meets the reasonable requirements of both parties, taking into account factors such as employment status, health considerations, and future financial prospects. This nuanced approach ensures that the distribution of the marital home is not only fair but also responsive to the unique circumstances of each spouse, providing a foundation for their respective post-divorce lives.

Implications and Strategies:

  • Buyout Agreements:

A spouse wishing to keep the home during a divorce may negotiate a buyout agreement, compensating the other spouse for their share of the home’s value through assets or cash.

  • Refinancing:

Refinancing the mortgage allows the spouse keeping the home to assume full financial responsibility. This often involves proving financial stability and creditworthiness.

  • Mediation and Collaboration:

Opting for mediation or collaborative divorce processes empowers spouses to work together, making joint decisions on property distribution, including the fate of the marital home.

The fate of the marital home is a pivotal aspect of divorce proceedings. Navigating the intricacies of Florida family law demands a deep understanding of equitable distribution principles and the unique factors that shape property division. For those embarking on this journey, seeking legal guidance is paramount.