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  • Writer's pictureTeresa Prescott

Will I be punished for my spouse's bad behavior before our divorce?

Updated: Jul 19, 2018

What if your spouse ran up debt during the marriage on an extra-marital affair or in preparation of the divorce? Marital misconduct and dissipation of marital assets are factors the court will consider for equitable distribution purposes.

Florida courts are courts of equity, which means they presume that the parties are each entitled to a 50% split of the assets and liabilities upon divorce. However, your spouse’s bad behavior during the marriage, or the unwarranted spending of joint funds may entitle you to a bigger pay out upon divorce. Often times, based on the bad conduct of the opposite spouse, (like paying for their paramour’s rent for example, or their funneling of your marital funds to an offshore account for the six months before they filed for divorce) your attorney can argue “dissipation of assets.”

Dissipation of assets is defined under Florida law as “where one spouse uses marital funds for his or her own benefit and for a purpose unrelated to the marriage at a time when the marriage is undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown.” Other bad behavior related to the spending of marital funds can also help your attorney prove an ability to pay alimony later. When conduct like this has occurred, your attorney can argue that you should not be responsible for your spouse’s marital waste, misconduct, or concealment- therefore entitling you to more of the assets and less of the debt, or some other equitable compensation upon your divorce.

If your spouse racked up debt and left you completely in the dark or engaged in any other misconduct, it’s possible that you could be left holding the bag upon your divorce. To achieve a distribution that is fair for you based on your unique circumstances, contact an experienced family law attorney.

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