The divorce battle between Jeffrey and Colleen Kilnapp was a contentious matter, including its share of respective finger-pointing between the spouses regarding the depletion of millions of dollars of marital account funds. That is not unusual in many cases. What was unusual was a trial court’s decision to adjourn a hearing over the husband’s alleged improper removal of $3.5 million in funds after allowing the wife’s witnesses to testify but not those of the husband. The 4th District Court of Appeal overturned the trial court’s ruling in favor of the wife regarding the funds, ruling that the trial court violated the husband’s due process rights by failing to give him an opportunity to be heard.
The Kilnapps had a prenuptial agreement, which stated that each spouse “would keep their own respective real and personal property along with any interest or increase in value.” This agreement did not, however, prevent the couple’s eventual divorce from becoming a contentious legal battle.
One hearing in the case revolved around the husband’s alleged unilateral withdrawal of $3,500,000 in money from jointly held marital accounts. The husband claimed that the wife had been emptying the accounts and that he moved the money in order to meet the payroll obligations for the business he owned. Without the action, the husband claimed he would have been forced to close the business and file for bankruptcy.
The Palm Beach County Circuit Court hearing the dispute allotted three hours. However, only an hour into the hearing, apparently having grown frustrated with the line of questioning pursued by the husband’s attorney, the trial judge abruptly adjourned the hearing, announcing that “I’m going to happy hour. I’m tired of this crap.” At that point, the wife’s witnesses had testified, but the husband’s witnesses (including his forensic certified public accountant) had not.
Shortly after the abbreviated hearing, the trial court issued an order requiring the husband to pay back nearly $3.3 million into three different Bank of America accounts. The husband appealed and was successful. One of the most fundamental elements of due process is the chance to have one’s “day in court.” In this case, the hearing at issue gave the wife an opportunity to be heard, but not the husband. Since the husband never received a full and fair opportunity to make his case, his due process rights were violated, and he was entitled to a new hearing.
Divorce cases, particularly those in which large sums of money are at stake, can become extremely contentious matters. If one or both spouses own a business, the matter becomes that much more complex, since each spouse’s actions and each court ruling in the case may make the difference between your business’ continuation and its premature closure. If you have a divorce case involving large assets or business interests, contact the Florida divorce attorneys at Stok Kon + Braverman. Our attorneys have the experience, skill, and determination to make sure that you get a fair hearing in order to protect those interests you’ve spent a lifetime building.
Contact us online or by calling (954) 237-1777 to schedule your consultation.
More blog posts:
Courts OKs Minimal Bond For Injunction Freezing Millions in Bank Funds, Florida Business Lawyers Blog, Jan. 8, 2015
Answering the Call: Stok Kon & Braverman Attorney Discusses Her Motivation For Serving as an Immigration Attorney, Florida Business Lawyers Blog, Oxt. 31, 2014