Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Dissolution of Marriage

A party who uses funds in a marital bank account to pay for every day living expenses or attorneys’ fees cannot be penalized for it absent a finding of misconduct. In the case McKenzie v. McKenzie, 4D17-2413 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018), the appellate court considered the former wife’s appeal of an order assigning to her in the equitable distribution scheme funds that were in an account she used to pay her attorneys’ fees.

The former wife testified that her savings accounts were depleted by the time of trial and that she used a portion of the accounts to pay her attorneys’ fees early on. Despite this, the trial court assigned the full value of the accounts as of the date of filing the petition for dissolution, resulting in a less-than-half distribution of the current value of the marital estate to the former wife. The appellate court reversed this ruling, holding it was improper for the trial court to assign these values to the former wife absent a finding that she intentionally dissipated the accounts.

The former wife also appealed provisions of the final judgment which used her gross income, rather than her net income to calculate child support. Because the Florida Statutes require that the parents’ net incomes be used to calculate child support, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s child support determination.

When you are facing a Florida divorce, it is important that you consult with a divorce lawyer to help guide you through the minefield of Florida divorce law. Without an attorney, you may be ordered to pay amounts you cannot afford and/or you may lose out on money and property that is due to you in your case. A relationship with a lawyer starts with a consultation - schedule yours today.