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3 ways someone can unfairly reduce the marital estate pre-divorce

On Behalf of | Sep 6, 2023 | Divorce

Divorcing couples in Florida typically need to provide each other and the courts with full financial disclosures. They also either need to negotiate property division arrangements with one another or wait for a judge to review the situation and determine an appropriate property division order.

Unfortunately, one of the spouses involved may engage in intentional misconduct such as the dissipation of marital assets before divorce proceedings are finalized in an attempt to reduce the value of the marital estate and thereby diminish what the other spouse receives in the divorce. These are some of the more common forms of dissipation that can unfairly imbalance the outcome of property division proceedings.

Destroying, giving away or undervaluing assets

Some people are so angry about a pending divorce that they will intentionally destroy the physical property of their spouse or shared assets in an attempt to punish their spouse. For example, people may cut up or burn someone’s designer clothing. They might sell tools or electronics for a fraction of their actual fair market value. They might also give away assets that belong to their spouse to deprive them of those resources. Any proof that someone intentionally destroyed, gave away or sold marital assets for less than their fair market value could help one spouse prove that the other intentionally dissipated marital property.

Spending money inappropriately

Dissipation can potentially involve using existing financial resources inappropriately. For example, someone might spend every cent in a joint bank account that previously held thousands of dollars. They could also use credit cards inappropriately, accruing huge amounts of debt that they then intend to share with their spouse in the divorce. Those who can show that their spouse intentionally wasted resources or took on debt to alter the marital estate’s value could claim that those amounts are also a form of dissipation.

Undermining the marital relationship

Some people will use marital assets or income for purposes that directly harm the marital relationship. The most obvious would be when someone uses part of their paycheck or a joint credit card to pay for a hotel room while conducting an affair. The use of marital resources for purposes that will damage the marital relationship can constitute dissipation and may lead the courts to omit certain debts from the marital estate or allocate more assets to one spouse than the other because of financial misconduct.

It is often only through a very careful review of financial records and the assets reported in the discovery process that those preparing for divorce can discover signs of dissipation. Identifying and quantifying the dissipation of marital assets may help people hold their spouse accountable for inappropriate financial conduct during a Florida divorce.