Sometimes, if you possess substantial assets, you may find yourself in a situation in which personal affairs and business affairs overlap. For example, what happens if you discover that the spouse whom you are in the process of divorcing has improperly taken funds from your accounts? Must you litigate these issues in the divorce, or can you bring a separate civil lawsuit? If you find yourself facing a circumstance like this, you should be certain to contact knowledgeable Florida divorce counsel in order to get the answers you need to protect yourself and your business.
The questions in the preceding paragraph were central to a recent case originating in Palm Beach County. In that Palm Beach case, the husband held several substantial assets that, according to the husband, the wife improperly re-directed to herself and her mother. According to the husband’s lawsuit for breach of contract and tortious interference with a business relationship, the wife’s misconduct caused the husband to be rejected for a mortgage on a $2.5 million house.
At the same time that the husband was attempting to proceed with his tortious interference and breach of contract case, he also had filed a petition for divorce. The trial court in the husband’s contract case concluded that the contract lawsuit must be dismissed. Whatever misconduct the wife did or did not commit, she did it during the marriage, which meant that the divorce case was the one and only proper place to litigate those issues, according to the trial judge.
The appeals court ruled otherwise, stating that the husband potentially was allowed to go forward with both cases. A few years after the Florida Supreme Court eliminated interspousal immunity for all tort claims, the courts in this state decided that, if a spouse had a tort claim against the other, he could bring that issue as part of the divorce case, or he possibly could proceed in a totally distinct lawsuit.
The key, the court explained, was the nature of the property at issue. If the property was marital, the husband was required to litigate the issue within the divorce case. If the property was non-marital, the husband was free to pursue the business tort and divorce claims in separate actions.
Not all high-asset divorces will involve the potential need to launch both a divorce action and a separate, second civil lawsuit. Each one will, however, present its own set of unique issues that require the skill of an experienced legal representative to make sure that you and your interests are protected fully. Whether you are dealing with issues of equitable distribution, misappropriation of wealth, improper depletion of assets, or other matters, the experienced South Florida high-asset divorce attorneys at Stok Folk + Kon are here to help. Our experienced litigators have been helping clients achieve the results they need for many years and are ready to get to work for you.
Contact us online or by calling (305) 935-4440 to schedule your consultation and find out how this firm can help you.
More blog posts:
Dealing with High-Value Asset Items (and High Expenses) in Your Florida Divorce, Florida Business Lawyers Blog, June 2, 2017
South Florida Court Hits Ex-Wife with $6.8M Judgment for Tying Up Assets With Injunction, Florida Business Lawyers Blog, Nov. 30, 2016