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What is the Effect of Divesting Marital Assets for “Marital Purposes”, on Equitable Distribution?

Do you know that payments a spouse makes from a marital account, during dissolution of marriage or divorce proceedings, for purposes “reasonably related to the marriage”, should not be included in the equitable distribution scheme and “charged against” the spending spouse, unless there is evidence that one spouse intentionally dissipated the asset for his/her own benefit?

In a recent case, Ballard v. Ballard, WL 3865835 (Fla. 1st DCA 2014), the First District Court of Appeal addressed the above issue. During the dissolution of marriage proceedings, the Husband utilized the parties’ marital credit union account which previously had a balance of $42,012.00 and diminished the balance of the account “significantly” during the divorce proceedings, and before trial. The Husband testified that he used $20,000.00 from the account to pay his attorney, and presumably the balance on other expenses. At the time of trial, nothing was left. The Trial Court included the full $42,012.00 in the equitable distribution plan, without first finding that the Husband had used the assets improperly. The Appellate Court reversed, finding that the Trial Court abused its discretion. The Appellate Court further held that marital assets-funds diminished during dissolution proceedings for purposes reasonably related to the marriage, such as attorneys fees for the dissolution, should notbe included in the equitable scheme unless there is a showing that the “spending” spouse intentionally divested the marital assets-funds for his/her own benefit and for a purpose unrelated to the marriage. For support, the court cited Zvida v. Zvida, 103 So. 3d 1052 (Fla 4thDCA 2013). Thus, unless a specific finding of intentional misconductis demonstrated, the Court cannot “charge” the spouse depleting the funds and cannot include them in equitable distribution, since they are effectively no longer there.

Understanding the requirements for the Court to award the relief you are requesting is important, if you want to be successful in your case. The expert family law attorneys at Sidweber and Weintraub, P.A. are specialists in dealing with family law issues, and they can advise you as to the relief available to you in your particular case and corresponding requirements to ensure compliance.

For more information on issues pertaining to Florida family law, divorce, property distribution, child support, timesharing/custody, modification, enforcement and alimony cases, please call a Board Certified Attorney at Sidweber and Weintraub, P.A., for a consultation.