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Intentionally Losing Money to Avoid Paying Spousal Support Will Always Backfire


In Florida, equitable distribution is the guiding principle for deciding division of property and, when applicable, spousal support.  In other words, the courts attempt to separate a couple’s finances according to what is fair.  The court determines how much money the couple has and how much each spouse needs.  The law assumes that both spouses used their time and efforts for the benefit of the family, regardless of whether they held a paid job.  Therefore, continuing to be a stay-at-home parent even after your children start school does not make you less deserving of spousal support.  If the court finds that you engaged in misconduct, defined as behaviors that sabotaged the family’s wellbeing, it could reduce your share of the marital property when dividing the couple’s assets.  If you and your spouse cannot agree on how to divide your assets, contact a South Florida divorce lawyer.

What Qualifies as Misconduct?

The way you spend and earn money while your divorce is pending, or even while it is falling apart but before you file for divorce, matters.  Anything you do so that you will have less money when the divorce is final and it comes time to divide your marital assets counts as misconduct.  The following are examples of misconduct that will count against you in a divorce case:

  • Financially supporting an affair partner
  • Gambling
  • Intentionally remaining unemployed or quitting your job against your spouse’s wishes
  • Keeping large amounts of money in offshore bank accounts, especially if your spouse does not know about them

Note that losing money through no fault of one’s own is not misconduct.  The court cannot count it against you if your job lays you off or if the business you own becomes insolvent.  If the family operates as a single-income household for an extended period, the court assumes it is by mutual consent unless you can prove otherwise.

Details of the Gotro Case

John and Catherine Gotro divorced after 39 years of marriage; Catherine was a homemaker for most of that time, so the court awarded her permanent alimony.  Florida only awards permanent alimony to people who are at or near retirement age or who are not healthy enough to reenter the workforce.  While their divorce case was pending, John spent a considerable amount of money renovating their house.  Thus, he had less to spend on alimony when their divorce became final.  Catherine alleged misconduct, saying that John had intentionally wasted money.  John argued that the money had spent on the renovations was necessary and reasonable; he also pointed out that he had paid Catherine temporary alimony during their divorce process.  The court agreed with John that he had not engaged in misconduct.

Reach Out to Us Today for Help

A family law attorney can stand up for your rights if your spouse is not playing fair when it comes to division of property and spousal support.  Contact the Boca Raton divorce lawyers at Schwartz | White about your case.


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