Serving Sarasota Since 1973

Expenditure of Marital Money During Divorce

The law isn’t always fair.  In some cases, certainty (or simplicity) is favored over fairness.  For example, marital assets are generally identified as of the day of the filing of the Petition for Dissolution.  Therefore, if there is $10,000 in the joint bank account on the day of filing, that is presumptively marital in nature and subject to being equally divided between the parties.  However, if either party spends some of that during the divorce action, only the balance on the date of judgment will be divided unless the other party can prove that the missing money from that joint account was dissipated.  Therefore, if party A started using that account for everyday expenses instead of his/her income, the court could only divide the balance.  So, in the absence of compelling evidence that the money was maliciously used or, at least, frivolously depleted, the court’s hands would be tied. In such an instance, equitable distribution wouldn’t be equitable at all, but it would save the court from having to listen to evidence of what appears to be misconduct.  Is that good law?  I don’t think so, but it is the law of the land, and an opportunity for unethical people to act badly and get away with it.

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