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What if my spouse is removing property from the house, or raiding assets etc?

As a general proposition a party should not be removing assets from the marital home when there are Florida divorce proceedings pending. Most judges will conclude that if a party is leaving the marital home, that they may take with them their personal property. That would include clothes, work related tools and items, and personal jewelry for example.

The Court is likely not going to be pleased if someone starts removing furniture, things affixed to the property such as lights, and valuables etc. Of course there are a variety of circumstances that may justify taking more than the basic necessities of life. One might argue that if a spouse is in the habit of selling valuables that are in the home, perhaps it is best to safeguard the items away from the house (and advise the spouse in writing that you have done so in order to safeguard the asset). Or the judge may not (or may) be upset for example if a party removes a small tv if there are numerous other televisions in the home.

Another troubling situation is where the spouse is raiding bank or other financial accounts. The spouse may be concealing or utilizing the assets in a way that could preclude the other side from eventually getting their share (ie transferring assets to an account just in that party’s own name, giving away or spending assets etc). Don’t forget that as a general proposition in Florida, assets acquired during the marriage are marital assets typically subject to a 50-50 split, regardless of whose name the asset is in.

If a spouse is indeed playing games with assets, it is probably necessary to file a motion before the divorce judge asking for several things. The first request would be for a court order enjoining the party from removing or transferring any other assets. The next request might be that the offending party account for exactly what items/assets they have removed, transferred or spent etc, and state where those items are. Another request might be that the judge order that the property be returned or safeguarded in a certain way (including that accounts be frozen etc). In limited circumstances a judge can order that a party not touch certain assets without that party even having an opportunity to be heard (ie an ex parte temporary restraining order). Eventually of course the judge will hear from both parties on the matter but in the meanwhile the assets will hopefully be safeguarded.

Additional remedies for other improper conduct can of course be sought from the Florida divorce judge. If a party is acting out of vindictiveness by cancelling the electric or cable account for the home, or cancelling health or auto insurance etc, the court can of course grant remedies regarding these matters. The bottom line is that the court is available to deal with all of these issues concerning assets and services. The goal is to make sure that one party does not put the other party in a prejudiced condition in terms of getting their share of marital assets or getting alimony or child support, or in terms of the inconvenience or danger of having electric or other important services cancelled.

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