Friday, December 30, 2011

Equitable distribution of marital assets .

Equitable distribution of marital assets.

“A trial court’s equitable distribution of marital assets is reviewed for
an abuse of discretion.” Rafanello v. Bode, 21 So. 3d 867, 869 (Fla. 4th
DCA 2009).

Section 61.075(3), Florida Statutes (2008), directs trial courts as to
the distribution of marital assets and liabilities:
In any contested dissolution action wherein a stipulation
and agreement has not been entered and filed, any
distribution of marital assets or marital liabilities shall be
supported by factual findings in the judgment or order based
on competent substantial evidence with reference to the
factors enumerated in subsection (1). The distribution of all
marital assets and marital liabilities, whether equal or
unequal, shall include specific written findings of fact as to
the following:

(a) Clear identification of nonmarital assets and ownership
(b) Identification of marital assets, including the individual
valuation of significant assets, and designation of which
spouse shall be entitled to each asset;
(c) Identification of the marital liabilities and designation of
which spouse shall be responsible for each liability . . . .
§ 61.075(3), Fla. Stat., (2008).

The trial court must make reference to the equitable distribution factors in 61.075(1).This and other courts have reversed final judgments of dissolution when the trial court failed to comply with 61.075(3). See, e.g., Dorsett v. Dorsett, 902 So. 2d 947, 954 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005) (finding that “the trial
court erred by not making written findings identifying and assigning values to the marital assets and liabilities, in violation of section 61.075, Florida Statutes”); Pignataro v. Rutledge, 841 So. 2d 636, 638 (Fla. 2d
DCA 2003) (reversing because “the final judgment does not identify or value any of the parties’ assets or liabilities, and it provides no factual findings to support the distribution scheme”); Whelan v. Whelan, 736 So.
2d 732, 733 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999) (reversing a final judgment because it awarded the husband’s interest in the marital home to the wife without providing a valuation of the marital home); Singleton v. Singleton, 696 So.
2d 1338, 1338-39 (Fla. 4th DCA 1997) (reversing a final judgment because, among other reasons, it did not comply with 61.075(3)).

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