Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Divorce

Divorce can be a very expensive process. Paying lawyers on top of paying alimony, child support and your own living expenses can be very taxing. This is why some parties end up liquidating assets during a divorce proceeding in order to keep up financially. In the case Jones v. Jones, 1D16-3736 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018), the husband liquidated his military retirement account and was penalized for it in the final judgment.

The record reflected that the husband liquidated $20,000 from his Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). He testified that he did so to pay marital expenses including his and his children’s living expenses. The wife testified that she received none of those funds. Despite this, in its final judgment of divorce, the court awarded the value of half the funds that were removed from the account, ordering the husband to pay the wife $500 per month until the sum was satisfied.

The husband appealed, arguing it was error to count these funds in the equitable distribution because there was no finding that he dissipated the funds or that there was any misconduct on his part. The appellate court agreed, holding: “In this case, Former Husband liquidated the TSP account to pay expenses to, according to his testimony, satisfy marital debt and to continue paying bills for himself and his children during the dissolution proceedings. Because the asset was dissipated, the trial court was required to make a specific finding of misconduct to equitably distribute it, which was not done. [. . .] Because the record before this Court contains no evidence upon which the trial court could have concluded that Former Husband's withdrawal of the funds was misconduct, we reverse the trial court's equitable distribution order and remand the case to readdress the issue of equitable distribution.”

Had the husband failed to appeal this ruling, he would have been responsible for paying back over $10,000. This is why it may be worth it to hire a Florida divorce lawyer to assist you with protecting your rights in your Miami divorce. A consultation will help you determine the next best steps.