ARE ASSETS ACQUIRED AFTER A DIVORCE WAS FILED MARITAL ASSETS?

A division of property and assets case captioned Ritacco v. Ritacco was recently decided by the Florida Court of Appeal.  This case involved a twenty-two year marriage. During the course of the marriage, the parties had two children.  Both are now adults.  The Husband drew a salary, received a pension, and owned a DROP account.  The Wife moved out of the marital home on the day that she filed her Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.

The Wife also borrowed $65,761.00 from the parties’ HELOC on that date.  The Wife deposited these funds into her bank account.  She testified at the final hearing that she used these funds to support her daughter and herself.  She stated that she used these funds to purchase gas, clothing, food, and to pay for medical visits for her daughter.  At the hearing, the Husband asserted that the Wife’s withdrawal from the HELOC was a non-marital debt.

The Florida Court of Appeal stated that under Florida statutes, there are three dates that a Court may utilize to classify marital assets and liabilities.  The first date is the date on which the parties executed a valid separation agreement.  The second date is a date agreed to by the parties in a valid separation agreement.  In the event that neither of these dates apply, the date that Florida Courts utilize to classify marital assets and liabilities is the date that a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed.

In Ritacco v. Ritacco, the parties did not execute a valid separation agreement.  Therefore, the date that the Florida Court of Appeal utilized to classify the parties’ assets and liabilities was the date that the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage was filed.  The Court stated that all assets acquired and all liabilities incurred after the date that the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed are considered to be non-marital assets and non-marital liabilities. The appellate court ruled that the trial court erred when it included the $65,761.00 that the Wife borrowed from the parties’ HELOC on the day that she filed her Petition for Dissolution as a marital debt.  Since the Wife incurred this debt on the day that she filed for divorce, the appellate court considered it to be a non-marital debt that was directed to attribute the Wife.

To discuss issues about your dissolution of marriage with a Florida divorce attorney, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at (561) 363-3400.

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