Written by: Lenorae Atter, Attorney at Law
When divorcing in Florida, there can be an issue regarding the marital home and dividing the property between husband and wife. The parties may reach an agreement about which spouse will take the property, for financial reasons or the like. This is quite common in a divorce, especially when the house is worth less than what is owed on the property, the parties do not worry so much about splitting the debt as they would in dividing equity. Working as a divorce lawyer in Jacksonville, Florida, I often have clients that are concerned about the condition of the home at the home of the division due to costs associated with any repairs that may be necessary.
Issues generally arise for spouses when one spouse has lived in the home during the divorce and the other is awarded the home at the end of the divorce. Issues may arise regarding the condition of the home and prompt questions of whether the party living in it previously is responsible or the spouse that was awarded the home. For example, in Husband decides to leave the marital home and file for divorce. Wife remains in the home while the divorce is pending and decides to ignore the home with regards to yard work, and decides to tear up the carpeting. Husband is awarded the home at the end of the divorce and moves back in to find that repairs of $2,000 are needed. Which spouse is responsible for those repairs?
This issue comes up a lot and if the parties actually reached an agreement without going to trial, then they should address this issue in their settlement agreement. The agreement can address necessary repairs and those repairs that should not have been necessary, but are the result of the other party’s actions. If the parties do not reach an agreement and then go to court on the matter, the party awarded the home may not know that the home is in disrepair. If that is the case, then the party awarded the home may take the other spouse back to court to ask that the court award the costs of the repairs that were necessary to get the house back to the condition it was at the time of separation.
So, how do you preserve information to show the court what the home was like at the time of separation? If you know that separation or divorce is pending, prior to moving out of the home it is a good idea to take photos of the property. That way, if this issue comes up during your divorce or after, then you have proof of the condition of the home and can then show the court pictures of what it was like when you moved back in. This is helpful to document regardless of your relationship with the other spouse because divorce, unfortunately, can bring out the worst in everyone.
If you are going through a divorce, then you should speak with an experienced divorce lawyer to better understand your rights and options.