Property division is a necessary component of any Florida divorce. Couples have to separate their financial resources and obligations to begin living independently. Some assets are easy to divide, while others can be more of a challenge. Particularly valuable assets, like the marital home, can often trigger intense conflict between the spouses. Sometimes, both spouses want to keep the marital home.
Who decides which spouse keeps the house during a Florida divorce?
A marital agreement
Some couples sign prenuptial agreements during their engagements that specifically discuss what would happen with their property when they divorce. If either spouse owned the home prior to marriage, there may be a clause in the prenuptial agreement asserting that the home will remain their separate property if they divorce. People may also have postnuptial agreements that include similar provisions. Marital agreements can determine which spouse retains the marital home in a Florida divorce.
The spouses themselves
Technically, spouses set the terms included in marital agreements. They can also set the terms for their divorce after deciding to file. Direct negotiations, collaborative divorce or mediation could help people decide which spouse will keep the marital home. If both spouses agree to property division terms, they can present a settlement to the courts for approval while retaining control over those major decisions.
A family law judge
In situations where spouses simply cannot agree with one another about property division matters, they may need to litigate. A family law judge theoretically has the authority to divide marital property in accordance with Florida state law. Florida has an equitable distribution law that requires a fair division of marital property based on a variety of factors. Although one spouse may keep the home, the other will likely receive other assets worth an amount comparable to their share of the equity in the home.
Many people facing divorce will see the value in retaining control over property division matters. Others will find it impossible to compromise and may need to have a judge weigh in on the biggest assets during their divorce proceeding. Understanding one’s options and seeking legal guidance accordingly can help individuals to make more informed choices about major assets and to generally prepare for an upcoming Florida divorce.