Case Examples – Alimony Rent Credits For The Marital Home
When parties decide to dissolve their marriage and are negotiating financial support including alimony, rental obligations of the marital home are sometimes part of that conversation.
In considering a request for the rental value of a marital home, courts may refer to Florida Statute 61.077 and follow the eight-factor approach to determining if a party is entitled to rental credits. Courts will also consider who was awarded exclusive possession of the home, the best interest of the child(ren) if any are involved, and the time when rental credit is being sought.
The Florida Supreme Court has held that whether a party is entitled to rental value depends completely on the circumstances of each case. For that reason, this article will explore three cases showing different approaches that courts have taken in coming to a determination on whether a party will be entitled to rental credits or other considerations.
Courts Must Consider Eight Factors Provided by The Florida Statutes in Determining Parties Entitlement to Rental Value
Caine v. Caine – 152 So. 3d 860
Mr. Caine appealed a final judgment of his dissolution of marriage to his former Wife. Mr. Caine raised the issue that the trial court did not consider the factors in §61.077 of the Florida Statutes when it denied the husband’s request for a portion of the rental value of the marital home.
Under §61.077 of the Florida Statutes a court should consider eight different factors when determining a party’s entitlement to credit or setoff of the rental value:
(1) Whether exclusive use and possession of the marital home is being awarded, and the basis for the award;
(2) Whether alimony is being awarded to the party in possession and whether the alimony is being awarded to cover, in part or otherwise, the mortgage and taxes and other expenses of and in connection with the marital home;
(3) Whether child support is being awarded to the party in possession and whether the child support is being awarded to cover, in part or otherwise, the mortgage and taxes and other expenses of and in connection with the marital home;
(4) The value to the party in possession of the use and occupancy of the marital home;
(5) The value of the loss of use and occupancy of the marital home to the party out of possession;
(6) Which party will be entitled to claim the mortgage interest payments, real property tax payments, and related payments in connection with the marital home as tax deductions for federal income tax purposes;
(7) Whether one or both parties will experience a capital gains taxable event as a result of the sale of the marital home; and
(8) Any other factor necessary to bring about equity and justice between the parties.
However, in this case, the final judgment was silent on Mr. Caine’s entitlement to the rental value and included no analysis of the eight factors. The only thing the final judgment mentioned was that if the home was sold, then proceeds were to be divided and that the former wife was not to be charged the fair rental value for her own use and possession of the marital home.
As the record did not show that the trial court ever considered the eight factors before determining the issue of rental obligations, the final judgment was remanded for further proceedings. According to the appellate court, the trial court should specifically address these eight factors to determine if the former husband was entitled to rental proceeds of the marital home.
Former Husband Entitled to Reasonable Rental Value of Marital Home From the Time Oldest Child Reached Age of Majority
Weiner v. Weiner – 37 So. 3d 395
Mr. Weiner appealed a finding by the trial court stating that the law does not entitle him to reasonable rental value of the marital home from the time of the oldest child’s majority.
Here the husband was only seeking rental credit for the period after the minor child reached the age of majority, at which time the wife no longer had lawful exclusive possession of the home. The wife was living in the marital residence after the minor child had reached the age of majority, and when Mr. Weiner filed a petition seeking rental credit, his former wife filed a counterclaim seeking contribution for the expenses of the marital home.
A magistrate found that the former wife was entitled to a credit for the expenses she made in connection to the marital home, but Mr. Weiner was not entitled to half the rental value during the former wife’s occupancy after the child was of majority.
On appeal, the court found that this was an incorrect outcome. The court held Mr. Weiner was entitled to rental credit in order to offset the former wife’s claim for contribution of the marital home expenses. This contribution did not interfere with the wife being granted exclusive possession of the marital home because Mr. Weiner sought the rental credit after the child had reached majority age and the former wife no longer had lawful exclusive possession.
The appellate court held that the trial court should have rejected the magistrate’s legal conclusion as Mr. Weiner is entitled to the reasonable rental value of the marital home from the time the child reached majority age.
Former Husband Not Entitled to Credit for Fair Rental Value of Marital Home When It Would Be in The Children’s Best Interest to Remain in The Home
Sweet v. Sweet – 993 So. 2d 91
Mr. Sweet appealed the final judgment of a dissolution of marriage. He argued that he was entitled to credit for the fair rental value of the mother’s exclusive occupancy of the marital home prior to it being sold.
The trial court ordered the home to be sold and the proceeds to be divided equally. Until the home was sold, however, the wife and the parties’ two children would have exclusive use and occupancy of the marital home. Mr. Sweet argued that in the division of the sale proceeds, he should have also been given credit for the fair rental value of the home during the former wife’s occupancy.
The Supreme Court has held that a party’s entitlement to credit for rental value in a dissolution of marriage depends on the specific circumstances and that if a court order provides no reimbursement for rental value, then it is assumed that the trial judge did not intend for there to be any.
In this case, the final judgment expressly stated that it would be in the best interest of the children to remain in the marital home. The court intended for the former wife’s exclusive occupancy of the home to be a form of child support to benefit the children. The exclusive occupancy of the marital home in an effort to seek what is in the best interest of the children is a privilege that bars Mr. Sweet from receiving credit for the fair market rental value of the home.
Thus, Mr. Sweet’s claim for credit for rental value was rejected.
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