If your spouse dissipates assets during divorce?

If you have a spouse that is a spendthrift or a bad business person and they dissipate or diminish assets during a divorce you cannot get your share of that asset awarded where it no longer exists unless you can prove misconduct. The case law creates the burden of proving misconduct very difficult to reach. The take away is to secure your marital funds if you are worried they will be dissipated by the other spouse. Most courts enter a standing order making it punishable by contempt to abscond with the joint funds or assets, but you can probably put them away for safe keeping in an account the spouse suspected of diminishing them cannot reach to preserve the asset for distribution. In the recent case of OLIVAREZ v. OLIVAREZ,43 FLW D1902b (Fla.1st DCA) in Case No. 1D17-4050 The court  reversed the order which included $23,000.00 of assets allegedly dissipated during the divorce proceedings and remanded the case to remove the diminished funds from the equitable distribution scheme and revisit alimony to see if the redaction of this asset effected the award of alimony , child support and attorney fees for reconsideration where there was no evidence of spousal misconduct as to the dissipated assets.

Full opinion follows:

(PER CURIAM.) Rebecca Olivarez appeals the trial court’s final order of dissolution, which included $23,000 of assets allegedly dissipated during the dissolution proceedings. Absent a showing of misconduct, “it is error to include assets in an equitable distribution scheme that have been diminished or dissipated during the dissolution proceedings.” Winder v. Winder, 152 So. 3d 836, 838 (Fla. 1st DCA 2014) (quoting Roth v. Roth, 973 So. 2d 580, 584 (Fla. 2d DCA 2008)). Accordingly, we reverse the equitable distribution portion of the final judgment. As a consequence, we also reverse the trial court’s determinations of alimony, child support, and attorney’s fees for the trial court’s reconsideration, if necessary. Branch v. Branch, 775 So. 2d 406, 408 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000) (The “reversal of portions of the final judgment necessarily affects the overall plan for equitable distribution of the marital assets and liabilities, as well as other financial aspects” such that “on remand, the trial court may reconsider the entire plan of equitable distribution, including the subjects of alimony and attorney’s fees.”).

REVERSED and REMANDED. (LEWIS, MAKAR, and M.K. THOMAS, JJ., concur.)

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About Beth

Elizabeth Wolt is an AV rated marital and family law attorney. She runs a boutique law firm catering to a select group of clients taking on a low number of cases so she can devote individulaized attention during this difficult transition. Identified as one of the Best and Brightest college Students by USA Today in 1994. Featured in a cover article on May 8, 1997 of the Wall Street Journal. Graduated Magna Cum Laude from Undergraduate School- University of South Florida with a BA in Psychology 1994. Graduated Cum Laude from University of Miami School of Law- JD.1997. Named to the list of "Top Lawyers in Florida" by the Legal Network 2013, 2014, & 2015. AV rated by Martindale Hubbel in both ethics and ability. Rated "Excellent" by AVVO legal.com Featured in the American Lawyer December 2014
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