Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Divorce

While divorce itself can be an unfortunate event, the rift that can sometimes occur in families as a result of the divorce is just as unfortunate. Take the case of Martinez v. Martinez, 219 So.3d 259 (Fla. 5th DCA 2017) where the wife had to also sue her adult stepson as part of the divorce case because she alleged her husband was transferring marital assets to his son in an effort to deprive her of them. 

Mrs. Martinez filed for divorce, joining her stepson and alleging that her husband and stepson were "involved in a plan [. . .] to minimize or conceal [her husband's] net worth in an effort to defraud [Mrs. Martinez] from any interest" in millions of dollars worth of assets. To back up this claim, the wife alleged that significant assets were transferred to the stepson for little, if any, money or other value. 

After the parties exchanged discovery, the stepson moved for summary judgment on the claims against him, arguing essentially that the wife had not stated a proper cause of action against him and that in any event, even if she had, her claim would have been barred by a statute of limitations. The trial court granted the stepson's motion and he was effectively dismissed as a defendant from the case. 

The wife appealed and the trial court's ruling was reversed. First, the appellate court reasoned, there was no statute of limitations that barred the wife from bringing her claims - the Florida statutes concerning dissolution of marriage indicate the court must consider a spouse's alleged dissipation of assets going back two years from the date of filing. However, the court had discretion to go back further in time based on the part of the statutes which generally allows the court to consider any other factors necessary to do equity between the parties.

Additionally, the appellate court held it was not necessary to plead a separate cause of action against the stepson since the action against the stepson is incidental to the divorce. Ensuring that your claims are fully considered in a Florida divorce case means properly suing the right parties on the right grounds. Sometimes it is necessary to join corporations and other third parties to your divorce to fully resolve your claims. Consult with a Miami divorce lawyer to learn whether or not this is necessary in your case.