This is the next post in a series of articles discussing the financial consequences of dating before one’s divorce is final in Melbourne, Florida. Our previous post discussed how dating during a divorce can impact child support. As discussed, child support calculations are determined based on a formulaic approach in Florida. However, exhibiting poor decisions while a case is pending, including dating a person completely unsuitable to be around one’s children may result in reduced custody rights. Under the state’s child support formula, if one parent has primary or sole physical custody of the children then the other party’s child support obligations increase. Therefore, it is advisable to carefully consider dating choices if a divorce case is not yet finalized. This article will discuss how best to respond when one’s spouse raises concerns about dating-related spending during the divorce process. If you need assistance, contact our office today to speak with a lawyer.
Divorce is often an emotional and contentious process. When emotions run high, one or both parties may trade unfair demands for financial settlements, alimony, property divisions, or child custody. When one party begins dating before their case is final, such problems can become even more pronounced. For instance, it is not uncommon for the other party to attempt to recoup monies spent on dates, vacations, jewelry, etc. through the divorce process. As previously discussed in this series, because Florida Courts attempt to equitably divide marital debts and assets between spouses, extraordinary spending on one’s new significant other may be factored into their analysis. If the non-dating spouse’s financial position is negatively impacted by the other spouse’s use of joint assets, a Judge may award them a larger proportion of the assets in their final order. Individuals can take precautions in advance to mitigate any such claims and should be prepared to defend their actions in Court.
Consider the following examples. A woman begins dating before her divorce is final. The couple spends money regularly at restaurants, on entertainment, trips, and furnishing their new apartment. Her husband argues that she is spending marital funds to finance these activities. He requests that the Court award him a larger portion of the couple’s joint assets to offset her spending. The woman is not surprised by the argument and has been careful to equally split the costs of the meals, trips, furnishings, etc. with her new boyfriend. She has kept copies of receipts and bank statements for all joint activities which demonstrate that the spending was not not out of the ordinary. Now suppose, on the other hand, that she had paid for the majority of the costs of such items for herself and her boyfriend, including paying rent, utilities, and to furnish their shared apartment. Under such circumstances, the Judge may decide that her use of marital funds in such a way justify granting a higher percentage of the divided property to her spouse in the divorce. Understanding the potential consequences of such spending in advance can help diffuse such arguments and create a basis for challenging such claims in Court.
If you need assistance with a divorce question, contact our Melbourne office to speak with a lawyer today. We also serve the cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.