New Laws Relating to Marital Assets

The husband reenlisted in the Air Force for another five years and became eligible to receive a bonus under the Aviator Continuation Pay Program. He chose to receive half his bonus in a lump sum and the other half spread out over five years.

Soon thereafter he filed for dissolution of his marriage, expecting that the second half of the reenlistment bonus would not be included in the divorce settlement. However, the trial court awarded half of the entire bonus to the wife as part of equitable distribution. The First District Court found that this was correct since the entire bonus was vested upon reenlistment, which was before the divorce was filed. The court required payment to the wife if and when the husband received each bonus payment, rather than reducing the bonus to present value and requiring immediate payment.

Marcell v. Marcell, 28 FLWD772 (Fla 1st DCS 2003)

Disability Benefits are Non-Marital

A series of opinions in Florida courts from 1989 to 2003 hold that the future value of a disability pension on which a spouse is currently receiving benefits is not a marital asset subject to equitable distribution. However, the income derived from such a pension by its very nature replaces future lost income, and therefore, may be viewed as a source for the award of permanent alimony.

Swedlow v. Swedlow, 28 FLW D750 (Fla 4th DCA 2003)
Bloch v. Bloch, 688 So 2d 945, 947 (Fla 3 DCA 1997)
Hoffner v. Hoffner, 577 So 2d 703, 704 (Fla 4th DCA 1991)
Hanks v. Hanks, 553 So 2d 340 (Fla 4th DCA 1989)