Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Divorce

Equalizing payments are ordered in Florida divorces when a party is awarded certain assets that may not be capable of immediate liquidation.  In the case of a house, for example, if one spouse is awarded the house and that award in light of all other equitable distribution in the case provides for an inequitable split of the marital estate, the spouse keeping the house would owe the other spouse an equalizing payment to cover the other spouse's share of equity in the marital estate. If this is ordered, the court must make sure certain parameters are covered in ordering the payment. 

In the case Henry v. Lyons, 226 So.3d 252 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017), the marital home was awarded to the wife. Accordingly, the husband was ordered to execute and deliver a quitclaim deed relinquishing his interest in the home within 3 days of being presented with the deed. As a consequence of the wife being awarded the home, she was ordered to make an equalizing payment to the husband of over $25,000 within 90 days of the final judgment of divorce being entered. 

The husband appealed this ruling, arguing that these parts of the final judgment deprived him of his interest in the marital home. The appellate court agreed, holding there was no evidence making it clear the wife was in a financial position to make this equalizing payment to the husband within this amount of time. To require the husband to relinquish his interest in the home by deed to the wife without a basis to believe the wife could uphold her part of receiving that interest (i.e. paying for it), the appellate court ruled the husband would be deprived of his interest in the home.  The trial court was therefore instructed to amend the final judgment to impose conditions on the delivery of the deed to protect the husband's interest in the home. 

Cases such as this show us the importance of protecting a party's share of hard-earned assets. Without this ruling, the wife may have never made the payment and still received full ownership of the home. While the husband may have been able to file motions for enforcement against the wife, he probably would have spent a good portion of the equalizing payment owed to him on his attorneys' fees, not to mention the headache and time lost. Consult with a Miami divorce attorney today to learn what provisions should be included in your final judgment or marital settlement agreement to protect your interests.