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 focused on Florida’s “equitable” approach to dividing marital debts and assets and how a new relationship may impact the Court’s rulings on such matters. If one spouse is spending large amounts of shared assets or incurring significant debt to pay for trips, presents, or entertaining a new significant other, a Judge may award the ex-spouse a larger portion of marital property or lower amount of shared debt to offset the financial impact. In this article, we will address the potential financial consequences one may face if they move in with their new love interest while their divorce is pending. If you need assistance, contact our office today to schedule a consultation with a lawyer.
Florida Courts will not interfere with a person’s decision to move in with their new boyfriend or girlfriend during their divorce. It is important to understand, however, that the decision to do so may significantly impact a Judge’s evaluation of what is an “equitable” division of marital property between spouses. When determining how to fairly divide joint assets and debts, the Court will evaluate several factors, including the current financial position of each party, employment, earning potential, etc. If one spouse is spending an exorbitant amount of money on new living arrangements with their love interest and that spending is negatively impacting the financial circumstances of the other spouse, this factor may impact the final outcome of the case.
Consider the following example. George and Barb are divorcing after twenty years of marriage. They have lived very frugally during their marriage. They share a modest home and have saved $500,000 together. The two had tentatively agreed to sell their home and split the proceeds as well as their savings account equally as part of their divorce settlement. While their divorce is pending, however, George begins dating a new person and they decide to rent a five-bedroom, luxury condo for themselves and her children. He pays 100% of the rent, furnishings, utilities, etc. using nearly all of his salary and $100,000 out of their joint savings to cover the costs. Barb no longer believes that splitting the reduced balance of their savings account in half is an equitable outcome. Her attorney presents evidence to the Court in the form of bank statements, receipts, and photographs to demonstrate that Goerge has extravagantly spent joint assets to support himself, his girlfriend, and her family to Barb’s financial detriment. In light of the unusually high amount of spending and unnecessarily high-end accommodations, the Court may determine that Barb is entitled to $250,000 from the savings account (her original one-half) rather than the reduced amount remaining after George’s spending.
Those who are considering moving in with a new love interest during a divorce should carefully consider how their spending may be viewed by the Court in the context of the division of marital assets and debts. If you need assistance, 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.