Sometimes, your high-asset divorce can also mean high-dollar misconduct. The breakdown of a marriage can sometimes lead spouses to do things they shouldn’t, like going out and spending large amounts of marital assets on things that don’t benefit the marriage. When that happens, you’ll need to be prepared to take the right action in court in order to make sure that your spouse’s dissipation of assets doesn’t end up counting against you when it comes time for the court to establish an equitable distribution. Whenever you’re faced with this kind of divorce, make sure you protect yourself with an experienced South Florida family law attorney.
A case that originated in the Orlando area is a good example. Both spouses were high-profile and highly successful sports commentary personalities, each with net worth in excess of $5 million. The husband was a highly successful radio and TV host, covering golf and fantasy football, among other things, for several major networks. The wife was also a successful TV commentator, covering golf and football. During the marriage, the husband received a large settlement from one of his previous employers.
In 2016, though, the successful sports commentary couple divorced. Before the divorce was finalized, though, the wife allegedly took a substantial chunk of the husband’s settlement money and spent it on, among other things, $100,000+ of cosmetic procedures at a Beverly Hills dermatologist and over $7,000 on a new dog.
When you’re caught in a situation like this husband was, it is important to engage in the right legal responses. Generally, in a Florida divorce, equitable distribution will mean equal distribution… but not always. A trial judge can order an unequal distribution of marital assets if one of the spouses has engaged in “marital misconduct” that causes the “depletion or dissipation” of a marital asset.
Dissipation can take many forms. The old stereotype, of course, depicts a spouse who abruptly and unexpectedly abandons his/her partner, but not before draining every dime from the couple’s joint bank accounts. This, of course, is a form of dissipation. Other forms of dissipation may include a spouse who “maxes-out” the couple’s credit cards, who gives a new boyfriend/girlfriend expensive gifts with marital funds, who fraudulently transfers marital assets to someone outside the marriage in order to dodge the equitable distribution process… or who racks up a six-figure bill on cosmetic procedures in Beverly Hills.
Proving dissipation or depletion of assets and your entitlement to unequal distribution
How do you prove that your spouse engaged in misconduct and that you’re entitled to an unequal distribution of assets? You prove that in Florida by giving the court evidence that your ex intentionally depleted the marital asset or assets in question “for his or her own benefit and for a purpose unrelated to the marriage.”
This husband had that kind of evidence. Both the $7,000+ dog, which was something that the wife purchased jointly with the new man in her life, and the six-figure dermatology bill for cosmetic procedures, were both things that were clearly for the wife’s separate benefit and for purposes that weren’t related to the marriage.
What the husband wasn’t successful in holding against the wife, in terms of dissipation, were the sums she spent on the marital home’s mortgage, utilities and HOA fees. All of those expenses were things that benefited both husband and wife and also were related to the marriage, so they did not count as dissipation.
Once the court finds that a spouse, such as this wife, has dissipated marital assets through misconduct, then the judge can order an equitable distribution that gives the other spouse – in this case, the husband – more than 50% of the marital estate in order to compensate him for the depletion the other spouse engaged in.
Of course, to get that unequal distribution, you have to make the right legal arguments in court and give the judge the necessary evidence. To make sure you are prepared to do this, and to litigate all other aspects of your high-asset divorce successfully, rely on the South Florida family law attorneys at Stok Kon + Braverman. Our attorneys have many years of helping husbands and wives to achieve successful outcomes in their divorce matters.
Contact us online or by calling (954) 237-1777 to schedule your consultation.