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What will a court consider when dividing the marital home?

Last week, this blog discussed a number of financial and emotional issues that need to be taken into consideration when Florida residents are deciding whether to keep the marital home in a divorce. While the parties may reach an agreement over the disposition of the family home in the divorce in some cases, this is not true in other cases. Accordingly, the court may be called upon to decide the issue as part of the process of dividing the parties' assets and debts.

Just as the individuals have many issues to consider when deciding what to do with the family home, so too does the court have different factors it will consider. For instance, the court will consider the economic circumstances of the parties and the contributions made by one spouse to another's career or opportunities. The court may also consider the desirability of retaining any asset free from interference by the other party, and the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition and enhancement of the assets.

When the couple has children, one key factor that is considered involves child custody issues. Namely, the court will consider whether it is desirable for one spouse to retain the marital home as a residence for a dependent child.

As with other child custody matters, the best interests of the child are usually at the forefront of the conversation. The court first considers whether it would be in the best interests of the child to remain in the home. If it would not be in the child's best interests to stay in the home, the court will consider whether other equitable circumstances would be served by allowing one party the exclusive use and possession of the home.

These are just some of the many factors the court will consider in deciding what to do with the marital home. Moreover, these factors will apply to other assets and liabilities of the parties as well, as the court is tasked with equitably dividing the marital property in the divorce, in addition to child custody and other issues.

Source: Florida Legislature, "61.075 Equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities," accessed on Feb. 13, 2016

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