An Argentinian man was unable to persuade the courts that, before his wife should be allowed to obtain an injunction to freeze millions of dollars of bank funds, she should be required to post a bond of more than $100. The 3d District Court of Appeal ruled that the minimal bond was enough because the underlying divorce case originated in Argentina, where the law strongly favors the economically weaker spouse in matters involving the division of marital funds.
Jorge Cermesoni had amassed a considerable sum of several million dollars in several banks across multiple locations, including Argentina (where he and his wife lived) and Miami. The wife, Carolina Maneiro, filed for divorce in Buenos Aires in 2011. The wife later convinced the court in Buenos Aires to freeze one-half of all the Florida-based bank funds, including the husband’s Citibank and Wells Fargo accounts. Maneiro then went to the District Court in Miami-Dade County, asking it to issue a temporary injunction to enforce the Argentinian court’s order. The Florida court agreed but required the wife to post a bond of $100.
The husband challenged the injunction. He argued that the injunction froze more than $3 million in funds, that it had cost him more than $225,000 in damages, and that, based on these facts, $100 was much too small a bond amount. The trial court refused to increase the bond, so the husband appealed. The husband argued that Florida law demanded a larger bond in order to protect him and his financial interests from the costs and damages he suffered, should a court eventually decide that the injunction never should have been issued.
The appeals court was sympathetic and pointed out that, if the underlying case was a Florida matter, his arguments likely would have succeeded. The problem for the husband, though, was that the underlying case was not Floridian but Argentinian, and the laws of Argentina regarding bonds were much different. The court in Miami had a very limited role, which was to issue an order that would give legal force in Florida to the Argentinian court’s order and Argentinian law. There, divorce cases brought by the spouse in an economically inferior position generally do not require bonds at all.
Although Florida law generally only requires that courts here recognize and enforce final orders of foreign courts, certain exceptions exist, including cases when the order would protect the interests of a divorcing spouse’s claims to one-half of the couple’s marital property. The court in a 1990 case, Cardenas v. Solis, acted to protect a wife in a Guatemalan divorce from the risk that her husband might engage in “‘secreting the parties’ marital assets in Miami banks.” In Cermesoni’s case, court records stated that he had threatened to remove all the bank account funds outside the reach of the wife.
The failure of Cermesoni’s appeal has a clear lesson, especially for business owners. If the money that the husband had placed in his Miami accounts was needed to provide the operating funds necessary for a business, the freeze order could be extremely damaging. In planning for the continuity of one’s business, it is important to keep in mind that simply moving funds into banks in different locations may not always help ensure the continuity of your business. For answers to your questions about your divorce matter, including its potential impact on your business, consult the Florida family law attorneys at Stok Folk + Kon. Our attorneys are ready to help you protect your interests and take steps to ensure the survival of your business interests.
Contact us online or by calling (305) 935-4440 to schedule your consultation.
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