What Is Economic Misconduct?
A subcategory of marital misconduct, economic misconduct during divorce proceedings refers to actions by one spouse that causes financial harm to the other spouse. Even though Florida is a no-fault state (meaning a couple can divorce without having to prove fault), financial misconduct can impact the outcome of a divorce. If the courts find a party guilty of economic misconduct, it can affect property division, spousal support, custody, and child support decisions.
Common examples of economic misconduct during a divorce include:
- Dissipation of assets
- Hiding assets
- Destruction of marital property
- Excessive expenditures
- Spending funds on illegal activities
- Spending funds on an affair partner
When determining if financial misconduct occurred, the courts will look at various factors, including the amount of money or assets involved, any evidence that misconduct occurred, and the nature of the misconduct itself.
Keep reading to learn more about the different types of economic misconduct that can occur during a divorce and the penalties you could face if found guilty.
Dissipation of Assets
When it comes to dividing property during a divorce, Florida is an equitable distribution state. This means that shared marital assets will be divided in a manner that is fair and equitable to both parties. However, what is considered equitable is not necessarily a straight 50/50 split of assets (though, in some cases, it may be). Equitable distribution is guided by Florida Statute 61.075. Dissipation occurs when one party willfully and intentionally removes, wastes, spends, or destroys marital assets either after the divorce petition has been filed or within the two previous years of filling.
How Is Dissipation Different Than Hiding Assets?
When someone dissipates marital assets, they typically use or destroy the funds in question so that they cannot be divided between the two parties by the courts. When someone attempts to hide marital assets, they generally do so to preserve the assets for themselves or because they do not feel their former spouse is entitled to them. Ultimately, the guilty party’s goal is the same: to prevent their former spouse from getting a share of the assets in question during property division.
Dissipation and hiding of assets are types of financial misconduct and are illegal.
What to Do If You Are Accused of Economic Misconduct During Your Divorce?
If you are accused of economic misconduct and found guilty, you face serious penalties. For example, if the courts find that you are guilty of dissipation of marital assets, they may award your spouse significantly more during property division. Similarly, if the courts determine that the financial misconduct was detrimental to any minor children you and your former partner share, they may make child custody and child support determinations that are unfavorable to you. Because the consequences are so serious, if you are accused of economic misconduct, it is imperative that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
Divorcing can be a messy process, and unfortunately, some people may be tempted to make false accusations regarding economic misconduct. Determining if financial misconduct has occurred can be challenging, and you should not assume that your innocence is self-evident. Like ours at The Virga Law Firm, P.A., a skilled attorney can provide you with the support and resources you need to fight these accusations.
Similarly, if you suspect your spouse of committing financial misconduct, you should alert your attorney as soon as possible. Collect as much evidence as you can and present it to your attorney. As previously mentioned, proving that economic misconduct has occurred can be difficult and may require working with forensic accountants and other industry professionals to investigate the matter.
If you are going through a divorce and believe that financial misconduct has occurred, or if you are being accused of economic misconduct, reach out to our law firm for help. Our attorneys are highly experienced and prepared to help you today.
To learn about other forms of marital misconduct and how it can impact your divorce proceedings, review our blog here.