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Day late and a dollar short? Can a Florida couple dispose of a marital asset middivorce?

| Jan 21, 2021 | divorce, Property Division |

After a spouse files for divorce in Florida and while the proceedings are pending, the parties should not “intentional[ly] dissipate[e], waste, deplet[e], or [destroy] marital assets,” to quote Florida statute. Should a spouse sell or otherwise transfer or destroy marital assets before the divorce is final (or for two years before) to avoid having to split them with the other party, the judge must consider that wrongful dissipation of assets to be a relevant factor in the division of the marital estate. The court may decide that it would be fair to divide the marital property unevenly for that reason.

But what if there is a need to sell a marital asset (anything obtained during the marriage by either spouse alone or jointly) while the divorce is pending? For example, what if the cash flow is not there to pay money owed on a large asset such as a real estate parcel and the parties would like to sell another marital asset to generate money to make the payments and preserve the parcel as part of the marital estate?

Interim asset distribution

Florida statute provides that either spouse in a pending dissolution of marriage proceeding may file a motion with the court asking for an interim partial distribution of assets (or debts). The judge may grant the motion if there is “good cause,” defined as supported by “extraordinary circumstances.” There must be a “specific factual basis” for the request along with good cause for why the court cannot wait until the final property distribution to release the asset.

In deciding this motion, the judge must weigh all relevant factors, including those listed in the equitable distribution statute for consideration in the final equitable distribution of marital property.

The statute requires that any interim distribution of property or liability be accounted for in final decisions of equitable division. The interim distribution order must explain why it will not be unfair or prejudicial to either spouse in their later claims for support or legal fees.

A Florida attorney can answer questions about asset division and the need for interim distributions.

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