Who keeps the house in a Florida divorce?

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There are over 138 million homes in America. Unfortunately, over 750,000 divorces are filed every year. So, who gets the home when a couple divorces? A lot of factors have to be considered when determining issues related to a house. The primary one in the state of Florida is a determination if the house itself is a marital asset.

Florida is not a community property state but is a marital property state. So, we will have to look at how the house was acquired, when the house was acquired and how the house was titled. Other things like if there’s a mortgage and when the mortgage has been paid and by whom will be all factors to consider whether the home itself is a marital asset. In Florida, there is no preference as to who gets the house if everything is equal. Both the husband and wife have equal opportunity to be awarded the home in the settlement or in the judgment of the divorce.

If the home is a marital asset, we also have to consider whether there is a debt against the home, that being a mortgage. Typically, the home will be considered in a total together with all the other assets of your marriage, like your car, your bank account, retirement accounts, tools, guns, and all of those things that are assets that were acquired during the marriage with marital funds or marital efforts. The house is no different in that regard. The debts also have to be considered and the debt on the house is considered. Typically, when the home is awarded to one party, the mortgage or the debt on the home is also awarded to that party, hence the obligation.

To determine the value of the asset, many people look at the property appraiser and they do an assessment, some people will get an appraisal with a professional appraiser, some people utilize realtors to get a comparative market analysis to give them an idea of the value of the home. Of course, the debt against that is going to be shown on your mortgage statements, on your monthly statements it should have a balanced owed. The net effect of that would be the value of the house minus the amount owed on the house is actually the value of the house. When you take that in conjunction with the other assets, one party may take the home and the responsibility, if they’re able to afford the home, and that net value will be ascribed to them on their side. Florida uses equitable distribution, which is essentially equal. So, if somebody gets the house, there has to be other things on the other side to equal it out.

If there are minor children involved, then it’s possible to be awarded possession of the home after the divorce for a period of time while the children grow up and stay in the home but not be awarded full title to the home. That’s a complicated situation, but it is a possibility if there are minor children involved.

The home is usually the largest single largest asset involved in a divorce, not always, but usually is the case. Sometimes it’s hard when we are stacking assets and debts on each side to reach a balance when you have one significant asset like a home. Oftentimes that leads to the need to refinance the home in order to get some money, cash out refinance, so the person who is retaining the home can pay off the other spouse for their interest in the home. We refer to that as an equalizing payment. You may not have to sell the home but oftentimes that is the case. Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to support that would allow you to stay in the home that would be difficult for you to pay the mortgage payment on just your income, but your circumstances will dictate that, and they vary from case to case.