Once the divorce process begins and spouses inventory their assets and liabilities, the reality of property division may cause some distress. Rather than let a spouse have more, some people may squander their assets. According to Florida Statute 61.075, this intentional depletion of assets is illegal if it takes place after a spouse files the petition, or within two years before the filing of the petition.
Fortunately, depleting marital assets comes with a penalty. It is one of the factors that a judge considers when deciding how to divide marital assets fairly. If there is evidence of asset depletion, the divorce decree is likely to be heavily balanced in the other spouse’s favor.
As Forbes points out, this practice has the potential to do serious financial harm if the judge does not learn of the guilty spouse’s behavior.
Gathering evidence may involve identifying each expenditure on credit card statements. This may not be as easy as it sounds because many companies use alternate parent company names on statements to conceal the type of business it is. For example, a strip club charge may appear on a statement as “123 Enterprises.” Because of the challenges of identifying where money has gone and whether expenses are valid, it may be worthwhile to hire a forensic accountant with experience in investigating divorce cases.
Spouses who suspect the dissipation of assets should keep in mind that a judge may not rule that careless spending is illegal spending, especially if the other spouse has always been a spendthrift. Also, the amount spent should be substantial enough to warrant the expense of hiring a financial professional and engaging in the court battle.