Division of Property and Assets in Florida

In a recent division of property and assets case, captioned Gotro v. Gotro the Florida Court of Appeal held that a trial court should not include expended assets in an equitable distribution scheme unless these assets were dissipated as a result of one of the parties’ misconduct. In this case, the parties had a 39 year marriage and had 4 adult children. The husband was the primary breadwinner. The husband had a number of bank accounts which were marital assets. The significant bank accounts, for purposes of this appeal, were two accounts at BBVA Compass Bank. By the time that the final hearing took place, the balances in these two bank accounts was significantly lower than they had been at the time of the filing of the divorce. The husband testified that he had used the money in these accounts for his living expenses. The husband requested that the trial court distribute these accounts based upon their value at the time of the final hearing and not as of the date of the filing of the dissolution of marriage. In fashioning its final judgment, the trial court used the values in the accounts as of the date of the filing of the divorce.

In fashioning a division of property and assets the trial court can utilize any date of valuation that the court decides is equitable and just. Different assets can be valued as of different dates. However, it is usually inappropriate to include assets that no longer exist in a division of property scheme. The exception to this rule is when one of the parties’ misconduct results in dissipation of the parties assets during the pendency of the proceedings. A parties’ misconduct may become the basis for assigning an expended asset to that spouse. If the trial court decides to do this, in its ruling, the court must make specific findings that spouse engaged in intentional misconduct. The court must find that the parties’ expended asset was used for a purpose unrelated to the marriage during a time when the parties’ marriage was undergoing a breakdown.

If your spouse has used marital assets to support a girlfriend or a boyfriend, contact Florida divorce attorney Matthew Lane, Esq. at Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at (561) 363-3400.