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Equitable Distribution of Marital Assets After a Short-Term Marriage


The cases where courts consider alimony are those where the parties were married for a long time and their earning potential is very unequal.  Permanent alimony is only an option when the marriage lasts at least 17 years, except in extraordinary cases.  For shorter marriages than that, the duration of alimony cannot exceed the length of the marriage.  With marriages that lasted less than five years, the goal of equitable distribution is to put each party in a similar financial position to what they would be in if the marriage had never happened.  What happens, though, if the parties in a short-term marriage are in a vastly unequal financial position, and what happens if their financial situation changes dramatically during the marriage?  Things can get messy, and you will need a South Florida divorce lawyer to help you rebuild your life after a short, financially disastrous marriage.

When Your Spouse Blows Through Your Inheritance in Just Three Years

Evangelina inherited considerable wealth when her first husband died; she also earned income from her work as a real estate agent.  When she married Joseph, she had just over a million dollars in liquid assets.  Joseph, a divorced certified public accountant, earned about $40,000 per year and owed substantial debts.  Just after they married, Evangelina and Joseph bought a house for $412,000; they spent $500,000 renovating it, but by the time they divorced three years later, the house was worth $575, meaning that its appreciation in value during the marriage was $163,000.  The funds to purchase the house and to renovate it came from Evangelina’s premarital assets.

In the divorce case, Joseph argued that the house was marital property and he was entitled to a cash payment equal to half the value of the appreciation.  In most cases, the house would be considered marital property.  Separate assets become marital when one spouse deposits them in a joint bank account or buys a marital home with them.  In this case, though, the court treated the house as Evangelina’s separate property.  In this case, though, the court awarded the house and its appreciation to Evangelina alone.  It pointed to Joseph’s numerous financial misdeeds during the marriage; just one example was when Joseph bought himself a $115,000 Mercedes-Benz by applying for a loan in Evangelina’s name without her knowledge.  By the time of the divorce, Evangelina’s liquid assets were only $350,000.  In other words, Joseph had burned through two thirds of Evangelina’s savings and then had the audacity to ask for half the appreciation of the house.

Reach Out to Us Today for Help

A Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help you find a new normal if you quickly realized that it was a mistake to marry your spouse.  Most people do not have to pay alimony in divorce cases where the parties were married less than five years, even if your spouse depended on you financially during the brief marriage.  Contact Schwartz | White for help.



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