Can Spending Joint Marital Assets Affect The Outcome Of A Divorce In South Florida?
It is a sobering reality for some couples considering divorce. One spouse informs the other that it is not working out and that they might speak to a lawyer. Suddenly the other spouse takes it upon themselves to start spending money like it is going out of style, moving joint funds to offshore accounts, even selling furniture right under their partner’s nose. The partner wanting to separate checks their joint savings account, only to see that the balance is wiped. Can a spouse get away with this? Is it okay to deliberately spend or move money out of joint accounts when a divorce is pending?
Dissipation is defined as the intentional spending or concealing of joint marital assets (including tangible and intangible property) in anticipation of divorce or during divorce. It is unethical conduct that can be penalized and does affect the outcome of divorce proceedings. If you suspect your spouse of dissipating funds, it’s crucial you act quickly to put a stop to it.
Often dissipation is not uncovered until the discovery phase of litigation. Discovery is the exchange of information and evidence relevant to the case, including financial statements, income statements, and paystubs. During discovery, one party might learn that another party has spent large sums of money out of a joint account, possibly even spending their money on a new beau. A party might also uncover hidden funds, offshore accounts, wire transfers all traced back to joint marital assets. A dissipating spouse believes if they can dwindle away at joint assets before the other spouse has knowledge of it, the other spouse has less to gain from equitable division of assets.
If you suspect your spouse is dissipating funds and you have already filed for divorce you can file a motion for an injunction with the presiding court to freeze accounts and curtail another spouse’s spending habits until a decision is rendered regarding equitable division of the marital assets. Fla. Stat. § 61.075 (2018). Sometimes, forensic accounting might be necessary to accurately determine the source of commingled funds or if the other party is suspected of hiding assets. To prove dissipation, one party must establish that the other party deliberately moved monies, concealed assets or spent joint assets after the marriage began to break down or when a divorce complaint was filed. The moving party must rely on direct evidence such as joint bank statements or receipts for unauthorized purchases using joint funds.
Call West Palm Beach Divorce Attorney William Wallshein
If you suspect your spouse is dissipating assets and you are considering filing for divorce or have already filed, you need to take action. Don’t let your ex dictate what is yours or continue to waste what you have worked so hard to earn. With more than 38 years of experience, West Palm Beach family lawyer William Wallshein is an advocate for clients seeking resolution of high-conflict divorce issues. Call today to schedule a comprehensive consultation.