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01/10/2014
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Florida’s Equitable Distribution in Divorce – dividing property

In a proceeding for divorce, called dissolution of marriage in Florida, a substantial issue is the division of property owned by the spouses. First a divorce court will identify and separate each spouse’s marital and nonmarital assets and liabilities. Identification of assets and liabilities as marital or nonmarital is therefore very important because, only marital assets and liabilities are subject to distribution in a dissolution action. 

Under current Florida divorce and family law, the court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution. The burden is on the person advocating for an unequal distribution to prove entitlement to the unequal distribution. A court should consider many factors in determining equitable distribution within a dissolution matter.

Factors include any contribution(s) to the marriage by each spouse, including the care and education of the children and services as homemaker, the economic circumstances of the parties, the duration of the marriage, and interruptions of careers, educational or other opportunities, contributions to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other spouse. In addition, a divorce court should consider the desirability of keeping assets intact such as a business, professional practice, or the marital home as a residence for dependent children. Furthermore, a court should consider the contribution(s) of each spouse to the acquisition, improvement, production of income or the incurring or burdening of liabilities to both the marital assets and the nonmarital assets. A family court should also look to any evidence of intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets within two (2) years prior to the filing of the petition. There is also a catch-all clause in Florida family that allows the court to consider “[a]ny other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.”

Because dissolution of marriage or divorce is a civil case, a person is not entitled to have a lawyer appointed. If an attorney is desired, then an attorney must be hired. In all family matters, any law firm should perform a conflict check before you set a meeting; we should too. After consulting with one spouse, the firm could never consult with the other party or represent them. Therefore, the firm does charge a consultation fee in family cases. Please, click, call or fill out the form to begin the process of hiring an attorney. Any information gathered will be kept confidential.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Marijuana – Close does not count in criminal law

Although Florida added a constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana, the possession of marijuana without a medical card is still a criminal offense. Possession of less than twenty (20) grams is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and $1,000 fine. Simple possession of over twenty (20) grams is felony with up to five (5) years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

A recent court challenge to this unusual scenario argued that the crime of possession of marijuana could not be committed because Florida’s criminal law, which classifies cannabis as a substance that has no medical use, is in direct conflict with the medical marijuana amendment to the Florida Constitution which dealt with the production, possession, and use of medical marijuana. This writer is presuming that the defendant did not have a medical marijuana card because the Court’s opinion was based upon the constitutionality of the Florida marijuana laws and having a medical necessity does not appear to have been argued. 

The Court quickly noted that while the Florida Constitution, provides for the production, possession, and use of medical marijuana. “[T]he amendment specifically states nothing in this section allows for a violation of any law other than for conduct in compliance with the provisions of this section…”. This includes those sections of the law not impacted by the amendment. Furthermore, for any amendment to be a defense to a criminal accusation, the amendment must be intended to have that effect.

This all means that while some may aruge that marijuana is close to legal in Florida, close does not count in criminal law. To hire a lawyer to strategize specific to your case, please click, call or fill out the form.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529