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Florida court rules on evidence standards in divorce case

The Florida Supreme Court agreed with a trial court's ruling in a case involving a divorcing couple who were in a dispute about two homes. The decision rested on what standard of evidence was necessary. The appeals court had used "a preponderance of evidence" as its standard while the trial court used "competent and substantial evidence". The high court ruled that the latter was the correct standard.

The couple married in 1987. They had a prenuptial agreement in which they agreed they would each keep the property they brought into the marriage if they were divorced. In 2010, the woman filed for divorce. Two properties that were used as residences came into dispute. The woman was not on the property title, but the trial court ruled that the properties should be considered joint marital assets because thy were used that way during the marriage. The man owned other properties that he did not use in the same way, and those properties were not in dispute.

The appeals court, using the different standard of evidence, came to the opposite conclusion. The Supreme Court ruled that the properties must be divided equitably like other shared marital assets in the divorce.

As this case demonstrates, property division in a divorce can be complex even when there a prenuptial agreement in place. A person who is going through a divorce might want to speak to Hillsborough County Property Division Attorneys about the process. Defining what property counts as marital assets is one of the first steps in property division. For example, if a person has received an inheritance, that is usually considered individual property. However, if the person has used it to renovate the couple's home, it may be considered shared marital property because it was used for the benefit of both people.

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