Dividing marital wealth can seem like a straightforward process, but that is not always the case. Pointedly, there are issues that can arise long after the paperwork has been signed, and an inability to reach an agreement on those matters can bring former spouses back to a Florida court. An example is found in the area of real estate and property division. While not a common concern, one couple’s story serves as an illustration of how things can turn into a problem years down the road.

The issue centers on the short sale of the home where the couple lived as a family. As part of the divorce, an agreement was made that allowed the husband to remain living in the family home, while the wife was relieved of any obligation to cover the monthly mortgage payments. Because both parties had signed on for the mortgage, however, they both remained listed on the loan.

Some years later, the home went into a short sale situation, in which the bank would agree to accept less than what was owed on the home to facilitate a sale and avoid having to foreclose on the property. As often happens, the bank offered the homeowner, in this case the husband, a payment of $10,000 as a relocation incentive. When the wife found out about that payment, she insisted that she was entitled to half.

If such a case were to go to court, the husband could make the argument that he was the sole party held responsible for making payments on the home, which means that he should be the sole party who has the right to take any and all incentives from the bank. However, if the wife still holds a portion of ownership interest in the home, or if she were still owed money as part of the divorce settlement, then she may have a stronger claim to a share of the $10,000 payment. The takeaway lesson for Florida residents is simple: have any and all property division terms clearly stated in the divorce paperwork to avoid these and similar issues in the years to follow.

Source: The Washington Post, “Short sale of home owned by divorced couple creates legal complications“, Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin, May 15, 2017