Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Miami Divorce

Generally, property purchased during marriage in Florida is considered marital property and both spouses may have a claim to that property. Title to the property is not controlling - meaning an asset that was purchased during the marriage but titled only in one spouse's name does not mean the asset belongs to the titled spouse alone. As seen in the appellate case Lopez v. Hernandez, 4D17-3495 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018), the court must make specific findings if it decides to award one spouse an asset purchased during the marriage. 

In this case, the trial court awarded to the wife a home purchased during the marriage and titled only in the wife's name. The trial court found the wife had special equity in the amount of $8,000 and ordered her to buy-out the husband's interest in the home by paying him $500 per month over 55 months. The husband appealed, arguing it was error to award the wife special equity in the home. 

The appellate court agreed with the husband, holding, "In the instant case, the trial court did not make any findings as to whether the marital home—which was purchased during the marriage but titled only in the wife's name—was purchased with marital or non-marital funds. Additionally [. . .] the trial court improperly relied on the abolished concept of special equity and the judgment did not contain any findings reflecting that the judge applied [Florida Statute] section 61.075(1)."

On remand, the trial court was directed to make appropriate findings as to the nature of the home and to revise its order accordingly. Schedule your consultation with a Miami divorce attorney today to determine your best defenses and claims in your Florida dissolution of marriage case.