In a Florida Divorce, can an asset be awarded before the case is finalized?
In Florida dissolution of marriage litigation, sometimes, due to an emergency or otherwise, there is an urgent need for one party to be awarded an asset at a preliminary stage without having to wait until a final hearing or trial. There are many instances in which such a remedy may be necessary. For example, the lion’s share of liquid marital funds may be in the possession of one party, and access may be needed by the other party. Similarly, the parties may be in the process of selling an asset or might need to do so, and one of the parties may interfere due to personal animosities relating to the filing of a dissolution of marriage action. One of the parties may also require an asset to prevent dissipation or waste of the marital estate by the other party. Whatever the reason, so long as there is a proper legal showing and evidence presented, an interim partial equitable distribution is available as a remedy.
Section 61.075(5), Fla. Stat., authorizes a court presiding over a dissolution of marriage action to award an interim partial equitable distribution. Section 61.075(5) provides:
“If the court finds good cause that there should be an interim partial distribution during the pendency of a dissolution action, the court may enter an interim order that shall indemnify and value the marital and nonmarital assets and liabilities made the subject of the sworn motion, set apart those nonmarital assets and liabilities, and provide for a partial distribution of those marital assets and liabilities. An interim order may be entered at any time after the date the dissolution of marriage is filed and served and before the final distribution of marital and nonmarital assets and marital and nonmarital liabilities.”
Section 61.075(5), Fla. Stat.
Failure to strictly follow the requirements of this statute may result in a request for interim partial distribution being denied, and can be used to your advantage when defending against such a request. A motion requesting an interim partial equitable distribution must be sworn under oath. The motion must set forth a factual basis supporting the requested distribution, and must specifically demonstrate “good cause” why the award should not be deferred until a final hearing. “Good cause” means “extraordinary circumstances that require an interim partial distribution.” If the court grants an interim partial equitable distribution, it must take the distribution into account when later engaging in a complete equitable distribution after trial. More, the court must “make specific findings in any interim order under this section that any partial distribution will not cause inequity or prejudice to either party as to either party’s claims for support or attorney’s fees.”
Therefore, an interim partial equitable distribution should be made via sworn motion, and should set forth good cause why the matter cannot wait to be addressed at a final hearing. If a party is successful in obtaining such a distribution, the asset will be credited to that party in the final judgment of dissolution of marriage action where all assets and liabilities are distributed. An understanding of how to obtain interim distributions is often helpful in assisting parties through the dissolution of marriage process.
If you need help with a Florida dissolution of marriage matter, contact our office at 305.222.7921 or Office@RSJLegal.Com, immediately, to schedule a consultation!
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Robert Stone Jeffrey, Esq., is an attorney admitted to the Florida Bar in 2010, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and the Supreme Court of the United States. Robert has experience handling complex and high asset family law disputes, and has authored chapters in various publications relating to Florida family law, as well as civil and commercial litigation. Robert has been awarded an AV Rating by Martindale-Hubbell (2017 and 2018), as "Peer Rated For Highest Level of Professional Excellence." Robert was awarded a 10/10 rating by Avvo.com, and various client reviews can be accessed through that platform. See https://www.avvo.com/attorneys/33134-fl-robert-jeffrey-3341362.html. More information about Robert can be found at www.RSJLegal.com