Florida Court Examines Dissipation of Marital Assets in Divorces

In Florida, the courts look unkindly at one party deliberately wasting community assets during a divorce or the downfall of a marriage. As such, if they find that one party has dissipated marital assets, it may negatively impact their property rights in the context of a divorce. In a recent Florida ruling, a court analyzed whether the cost of one party’s lawsuit filed prior to divorce constituted dissipation, ultimately ruling that it did not. If you or your spouse want to end your marriage, it is in your best interest to meet with a skilled Miami divorce attorney.

Background of the Case

It is reported that in 2015, the husband was fired for cause by his employer. After his termination, the employer ordered the husband to repay the bonus he received pursuant to his employment contract. The husband declined and filed a lawsuit against the employer. Ultimately, judgment was entered against the husband. He satisfied the judgment against him using marital assets.

It is alleged that the wife filed for divorce two years later. For purposes of equitable distribution, the court found that the husband engaged in misconduct at work and used marital property to pay the judgment against him without the wife’s consent or knowledge. Thus, it found that it constituted misconduct and assigned it to the husband and reduced the amount of assets he received via equitable distribution. The husband appealed.

Dissipation of Marital Assets in Florida Divorces

On appeal, the court found that the trial court abused its discretion in concluding that the husband’s alleged work misconduct and litigation constituted dissipation for purposes of equitable distribution. The court explained that in order to assign dissipated marital assets to one party in a divorce action, their misconduct must be proven.

The mere mismanagement or squandering of marital assets in a way that the other spouse disapproves of is not adequate to show misconduct. Instead, to show misconduct, a court must find that one party used marital funds for their own purpose and for a reason unrelated to the marriage. Further, they must do so when the marriage is going through an irreconcilable breakdown. In the subject case, the court found that the husband used the marital funds to satisfy a legitimate debt. Additionally, the court found that the marriage was not in an irretrievable breakdown when the lawsuit took place. As such, the court reversed the trial court ruling.

Talk to a Dedicated Miami Attorney

The courts will divide marital debts and property in an equitable manner in Florida divorces, but if one party accrues debt for the purpose of dissipating assets, it most likely will not be considered marital. If you intend to seek a divorce, it is wise to talk to a lawyer about your rights. The dedicated Miami lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. have ample experience helping people protect their rights in divorce actions, and if you hire us, we will advocate aggressively on your behalf. Our office is in Aventura, and we regularly aid parties in divorce actions in Miami. You can reach us through our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a conference.