Articles Tagged with property division

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Florida’s laws are quite clear about the fact that all assets acquired and liabilities incurred during the marriage should be considered marital property. Since Florida is an equitable distribution state, Florida divorce courts divide marital property according to the needs of each spouse. It is rare for a judge to classify an asset or liability taken on during the marriage as non-marital property. In the Mills v. Mills case, the former wife successfully convinced the appeals judge to re-classify a home equity loan as a non-marital liability, on the grounds that her then-husband had forged her signature on the loan documents.

Details of the Mills v. Mills Case

During the 37 years that he was married to his wife Brenda, Barry Mills entered into a number of investments, many of which turned out to be profitable. In 2007, Barry and several other investors attempted to form a startup bank. In order to cover his share of the startup capital, Barry took out a home equity loan in the amount of $100,000 dollars; as per the terms of the loan agreement, he pledged the couple’s house as collateral to secure the loan. Certain that Brenda would refuse to sign for the home equity loan, and knowing that he would not have sufficient funds to participate in the startup bank project without the loan, Barry signed Brenda’s name on the loan documents without her knowledge. When the startup bank applied for a state charter, the state refused to issue one, meaning that Barry lost his investment, which totaled more than $245,000. When the lenders required the Mills family to repay the loan, they repaid it using money from Barry’s retirement funds.

When the couple divorced, the trial court classified the loss resulting from the startup bank project as a non-marital liability. The court’s reasoning was that, except in cases of misconduct, all assets and liabilities taken on during the marriage count as marital property. Brenda appealed the decision, arguing that a forged signature qualifies as misconduct.  Barry did not deny forging Brenda’s signature on the loan documents. The appeals court sided with Brenda and re-classified the loss as a non-marital liability. Continue reading

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Upon divorce, Florida law requires that all marital assets and property be equitably divided between the spouses. First, the court must determine which assets are considered to be marital property and which assets are separate (or non-marital) property. Generally, the courts will then start by presuming that all marital property should be divided 50/50, but may then adjust the division after carefully considering several factors. Such factors include each spouse’s financial situation, contribution to the marriage, and support of the other spouse’s pursuit of higher education or career opportunities.

If a spouse loses a loved one, they may have received an inheritance, which may include liquid assets, property, investments, titles, and more. While inheritances can have substantial financial value, they also may have significant emotional value, as well, especially in the case of family homes, businesses, heirlooms, or other meaningful property. If you receive an inheritance and are considering divorce, it is only natural that you may be concerned about the fate of the inherited money or property.

Is an Inheritance Marital or Non-Marital Property?