Category: Property Division

The Engagement Ring

If the luck of the Irish holds, your engagement diamond may be yours forever. Diamonds, given to you after someone asks the question: “will you marry me?” with a “yes” to follow, are a contract. This is why so many of them end up in court property division cases.

The Engagement Ring Tradition

Until the 1930s, a woman jilted by her fiancé could sue for financial compensation for “damage” to her reputation under what was known as the “Breach of Promise to Marry” action.

As courts began to abolish such actions, diamond ring sales rose in response to a need for a symbol of financial commitment from the groom.

I’ve written about engagement rings before. Florida abolished the appropriately termed “heart balm statutes”. Heart balm statutes were laws allowing couples to sue each other to recover money for the alienation of affections and breaches of contract to marry.

As one court poetically noted:

[A] gift given by a man to a woman on condition that she embark on the sea of matrimony with him is no different from a gift based on the condition that the donee sail on any other sea. If, after receiving the provisional gift, the donee refuses to leave the harbor – if the anchor of contractual performance sticks in the sands of irresolution and procrastination – the gift must be restored to the donor. A fortiori would this be true when the donee not only refuses to sail with the donor, but, on the contrary, walks up the gangplank of another ship arm in arm with the donor’s rival?

Engagement Rings in Court

After an engagement ring is given, and if the couple doesn’t marry, in New York the law deems a broken engagement as no one’s fault. Accordingly, the ring should be given back to the giver, with few exceptions. Most states have adopted that approach.

This is true in Florida. Lawsuits to recover an engagement ring by disappointed donors usually are resolved by courts looking to see if the engagement was terminated by the donee or by mutual consent of the parties.

The rationale is that rings are given on the implied condition that a marriage ensue.

Once a marriage proposal is extended and accepted — once the promise is made — no matter what day of the year, that ring is no longer considered a gift. It’s a contract to enter into marriage.

Most states embraced the no-fault rule after the 1997 case of Heiman v. Parrish. There, the Kansas Supreme Court decided that no matter who broke the engagement, the ring should be given back to the giver if the parties don’t marry.

“Ordinarily, the ring should be returned to the donor, regardless of fault,” the court found.

But Montana hasn’t followed the rule. Montana classifies the ring as an unconditional gift. The recipient keeps it. California and Texas take a middle-of-the road approach: the recipient of the ring is expected to return it, unless the giver called off the engagement.

The general rule in Florida is that an engagement ring given before the marriage, becomes a non-marital gift if the marriage is completed. If so, the ring becomes the non-marital property of the Wife.

If the engagement ring is viewed by the court as a non-marital asset, it is not subject to equitable distribution in divorce proceedings, and the spouse keeps it as their own.

The New York Times article is here.

 

Dividing the Mommy Makeover: Cosmetic Surgery and Divorce

Property Division in divorce can mean complex valuations are brought to court for a decision . . . but not always. Sometimes, breast augmentation surgery becomes a divisive issue. Recently, a state Supreme Court heard such a case. How are breasts equitably distributed?

Mommy Makeovers

Some call it “revenge plastic surgery”. Others call it the “Mommy Makeover”. There has been a long-term trend for women who have had breast augmentation surgery to separate and divorce, as compared to other women. There are now newer trends we’re seeing.

Men are also getting Daddy Makeovers. Men are enlarging their breasts, getting tummy tucks, and liposuction for body contouring for a more attractive physique.

Men and women are increasingly getting their physical enhancements done before filing for divorce. The new trend is for people considering divorce to plan for their divorce financially, emotionally and . . . physically!

The Great Divide

Erik Isaacson and Traci Isaacson were married in 1993, and have three children together. After filing for their divorce, they had to put together a schedule of assets and liabilities for the trial court to divide.

Erik put together his marital property list, and in it he included Traci’s breast implants, and valued the breast implants at $5,500. Traci listed them in her list, but assigned them no value.

The trial judge was not amused:

“[Breast implants are] the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen listed on a property and debt listing, next to the cat litter and cat box I had in my very first divorce, is going to be stricken.”

Hoping to avoid a painful distribution, the judge ruled on the cosmetic surgery:

I don’t know how you would expect me to award breast implants. Do you want me to have them cut out and given to Mr. Isaacson. . .? It’s absolutely nonsense. Do not waste the Court’s time with stuff like this.”

Erik appealed, arguing the trial judge improperly excluded the value of breast implants from the marital estate because it allowed Traci to spend marital funds on property she got to keep after the divorce.

Florida Property Division

I’ve written about property division before. Property division, or equitable distribution as it is called in Florida, is governed by statute and case law, but cosmetic surgery has not specifically been dealt with in Florida.

Generally, courts set apart to each spouse their non-marital assets and debts, and then distribute the marital assets and debts between the parties.

Marital assets and liabilities include, in part, assets acquired and liabilities incurred during the marriage, individually by either spouse or jointly by them.

In dividing the marital assets and debts though, the court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal.

One reason for an unequal distribution is the intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets.

Cosmetic surgery, and related medical bills, certainly fall into the category of marital liabilities. When a court has to determine which spouse pays for cosmetic surgery and related medical bills, a court may want to consider whether the procedure is medically necessary, or cosmetic, or a dissipation of assets.

Fargo

Erik and Traci took their breast case to the North Dakota Supreme Court. Citing cases from Hawaii, Delaware and Kentucky, Erik asked the Supreme Court to hold Traci’s breasts were a marital asset, the value of which are subject to an equal division of the marital estate.

During oral argument, one justice commented:

“Do we have any lines to be drawn? Is dental work a marital asset? Is a hip replacement a marital asset?”

In the end, the high court found that Erik never argued that the expenditure of funds to obtain the breast implants was a dissipation of marital assets:

nor did he present the district court with any reason why breast implants should be considered a marital asset.

The Supreme Court found the trial judge did not err in excluding the breast implants as a marital asset, and Traci was saved from a very painful property division.

Was Isaacson v. Isaacson the most important decision in matrimonial law? Probably not. But, equitable distribution does raise a number of interesting questions.

Especially when it comes to the increasing trend to undergo cosmetic surgery as a part of divorce planning.

The North Dakota Supreme Court decision is here.

 

Divorce and Cryptocurrency: A Bit of Bitcoin

Divorces are increasingly dealing with a new kind of asset: Cryptocurrencies. They are volatile and can be difficult to trace. What is a cryptocurrency, why are they so popular, and how are they a part of a property division in divorce?

Bitcoin is a type of cryptocurrency, and they are the latest way to potentially stash money so it can’t be found when it comes to dividing the marital estate.

Due to the supposed anonymity of Bitcoins, it seems practical and logical that people try to hide their cryptocurrencies from their spouses.

Cryptocurrencies are growing in ever larger value, and they are popping up more in divorces as a new class of asset to divide.

The law is familiar with the redistribution of many types of assets, like cash, bank accounts and other investments, but cryptocurrencies may be charting new ground.

Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies not associated with a central government. Bitcoin, the biggest and most well-known, was developed back in 2009.

They are created and controlled by computer programs, or algorithms. Those algorithms lay out how transactions are made and recorded, and how new coins or tokens are found and released.

People and organizations known as “miners” keep records of every transaction, and attempt to solve complex computer problems that, when solved, reward them with new coins.

In effect, users record transactions directly between peers, rather than through banks or other intermediaries. That system is known as a blockchain and the transactions, and even the currencies, are sometimes referred to as “peer-to-peer.”

A major difference between a cryptocurrency and the U.S. Dollar is that, unlike the U.S. Dollar, the total amount that can ever be in circulation is limited. Because the total supply of the currency is restricted, you do not use more coins to pay for goods and services, but less.

Florida Property Division

I’ve written about property division in Florida many times before. Property division, or equitable distribution as it is called in Florida, is governed by statute and case law.

Generally, courts set apart to each spouse their non-marital assets and debts, and then distribute the marital assets and debts between the parties. In dividing the marital assets and debts though, the court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal.

In Florida, if there is a justification for an unequal distribution, the court can do so, but must base the unequal distribution on certain factors, including: the contribution to the marriage by each spouse; the economic circumstances of the parties, the duration of the marriage, or any interrupting of personal careers or education.

Additionally, courts can consider the intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition or within two years prior to the filing of the petition.

A major fight which can take place during mediation is whether a spouse is responsible for the 50 percent drop in value of a cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin Mania

One of the main problems with a cryptocurrency is their high volatility. It is hard to equitably distribute volatile assets which can gain or lose so much value so quickly.

The price of Bitcoin, for instance, the world’s biggest and best-known cryptocurrency, almost halved in value from its peak value in December.

Cryptocurrencies will be a significant feature in a large number of divorces. Although they can be traceable, cryptocurrencies are highly volatile, and they are not going to go away.

The Business Insider article is here.

 

Chinese Property Division

China’s Supreme People’s Court just redefined what a marital debt is. Now, Chinese spouses will no longer be on the hook for unreasonable marital debts during the marriage as part of a divorce settlement.

The Supreme People’s Court, in a revision to Article 24, said that debts will be considered marital liabilities only if both partners sign the original paperwork, or if a non-signatory later approves the borrowing.

The change does not apply to spending or borrowing considered reasonable in a marriage, such as payments made for shelter or food, the court said.

Speaking at a press conference, Supreme Court judge Cheng Xinwen said the update to the article was intended to reflect a changing society.

It was considered necessary in view of the rising number of cases of people finding themselves in financial difficulty because of their spouses’ clandestine borrowing, he said.

Florida Property Division

I’ve written about property division in Florida many times before. Property division, or equitable distribution as it is called in Florida, is governed by statute and case law.

Generally, courts set apart to each spouse their nonmarital assets and debts, and then distribute the marital assets and debts between the parties. In dividing the marital assets and debts though, the court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal.

However, if there is a justification for an unequal distribution, the court must base the unequal distribution on certain factors, including: the contribution to the marriage by each spouse; the economic circumstances of the parties, the duration of the marriage, or any interrupting of personal careers or education.

Additionally, courts can consider the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the nonmarital assets of the parties.

China’s Distribution Solution

The previous version of the Chinese law stated that all debts incurred in a marriage were the joint liability of both partners.

Many people in China are in favor of the new law because of the values behind it.

I see no point in drafting an article to protect a creditor’s interests, as a person who’s able to lend money is always in the dominant position and capable of demanding that both spouses sign the paperwork before lending them money.

There were cases where husbands had sought to cheat their partners by concocting fake loan agreements in collaboration with dubious associates who would then demand repayment from the unsuspecting and legally defenseless wife.

Judge Cheng said that the law was introduced to help maintain market order – and creditors only as a consequence – at a time when there was a growing number of cases of couples trying to evade their debts by faking a divorce.

The South China Morning Post article is here.

 

Houses and Spouses

Once you’ve decided to divorce, new decisions need to be made: who is going to move out of the house, and are you going to sell the house – or not. Florida’s property division statute requires distributing the marital property, but is not exactly a how-to guide. This post looks at some options.

Deciding Whether to Sell

To make the decision more difficulty, there’s really no right or wrong answer to whether you should sell or keep a house. Your decision will depend on various factors.

Some of the factors influencing the decision to sell are things like your personality, is the house titled in both of your names, are there children, if so, where are the best schools, and how far away are the two parents’ homes.

Equitable Distribution

I’ve written about houses and property divisions before. In Florida, every divorce proceeding the court has to set apart nonmarital property, and distribute the marital property.

Florida judges always begin with the premise that the property distribution should be equal, unless there is a reason for an unequal distribution based on several factors.

One of the factors the court has to consider is the desirability of keeping the home for the kids or a spouse, if it’s equitable to do so, if it’s in the best interest of the child, and financially feasible.

Delaying the Sale

Some spouses decide to sell, but schedule the sale months or years into the future. This happens when a couple has kids, and both parents agree that the house shouldn’t be sold to preserve the school district or allow for easier timesharing.

There are other problems in a keeping a house in which your name is still on title. In the even that your ex-spouse does not pay the mortgage timely, your own credit will suffer the late notices.

And, if someone invited to your old home is hurt, that person will sue the record title owners for their damages. If your name is on title as an owner, that’s you! Making sure you have decent insurance on the house may be in order.

Selling Now

If you can’t wait for years, and need to sell immediately, there’s a silver lining.

A fresh start and new beginning after a complete division of all of the assets tying you together with your Ex is the best way to go forward for some people.

However, there’s a cost of sale. When you sell your house, you pay a commission, and other expenses, like taxes, title expenses, repairs which can average about 10 percent of the sale price.

Nesting

This is one of those modern ideas that sound so crazy, it just might work. With nesting, the kids live in the house, and the parents take turns living there. The parent not in the home often has an apartment that the divorced couple rent and share the cost of.

The U.S. News and World Report article is here.

 

Property Division: Avoiding Mistakes

As CNBC reports, divorce can take an emotional toll, but property division mistakes during the divorce can leave you in far worse shape than you intended. And the more intertwined you and your spouse’s finances are, the more closely you’ll need to pay attention while untangling them.

Ideally, you’ll have an attorney and a financial consultant who are advocating for the best property division, and who know what they are doing.

Nevertheless, experts say that even if you’d rather spend as little time as possible thinking about the divorce, it’s worth making sure you understand the implications of all property division decisions being made.

Most people don’t file during the summer, partly because the kids are out of school, they’re vacationing and they’re not focused on their relationship.

Then there’s a rise after Labor Day because people want to get things going before the holidays hit.

Florida Property Division

I’ve written about property division before. Property division, or equitable distribution as it is called in Florida, is governed by statute and case law.

Generally, courts set apart to each spouse their nonmarital assets and debts, and then distribute the marital assets and debts between the parties.

In dividing the marital assets and debts though, the court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal.

However, if there is a justification for an unequal distribution, as in the Work divorce, the court must base the unequal distribution on certain factors, including: the contribution to the marriage by each spouse; the economic circumstances of the parties, the duration of the marriage, or any interrupting of personal careers or education.

Additionally, courts can consider the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the nonmarital assets of the parties.

However, courts generally can’t base unequal distribution on one spouse’s disproportionate financial contributions to the marriage unless there is a showing of some “extraordinary services over and above the normal marital duties.”

CNBC’s Divorce Mistakes List

According to CNBC, if you are among those pursuing divorce, here are some property division mistakes to avoid:

1. Keeping a home you can no longer afford.

While staying put means one less change in the midst of an already life-altering event, it often makes little financial sense.

2. Taking the house in lieu of liquid assets.

If you are offered the house in exchange for your ex getting comparably valued investments — i.e., a retirement, bank or brokerage account worth the same amount — think twice before agreeing.

On paper the two may be equal, but practically speaking the house may be far more costly to maintain.

3. Ignoring the Tax implications.

Not all financial accounts are taxed the same way.

For instance, if you get the 401(k) plan account worth $100,000 and your spouse gets the checking account worth the same, you just got the raw end of the deal. Taking cash from the checking account incurs no tax, while any withdrawals from the 401(k) would be taxed as regular income to you.

Most people forget to look at the complete cost of each asset, particularly the tax nature of each.

4. Not getting a court order to get your piece of the 401(k).

If your soon-to-be ex has a 401(k) plan, you must have what’s called a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO, to access your share. (Individual retirement accounts do not require a QDRO).

This court order, which must get final approval from your retirement plan, marks one of the few times you can take money from a 401(k) without paying a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty. You will, however, pay income tax on the amount if you don’t roll it over to an individual retirement account within 60 days.

5. Not Getting life insurance

Depending on how heavily you rely on child support or alimony (aka spousal support), the death of your ex could leave you in a financial jam.

Life insurance on the person, with you as the owner and beneficiary of the policy, can serve as protection against that potential loss of income.

The CNBC article is here.

 

Is the Gift Really Yours?

How are those gifts you received during the marriage handled in a property division? The thought comes to mind as more people are buying divorce gifts to be given during divorce parties. Many people are surprised to learn how their spouse’s gifts to them during the marriage are treated.

Florida Equitable Distribution

When people divorce, there is a property division which we call equitable distribution in Florida. I’ve written about property division in Florida many times before. Equitable distribution is governed by statute and case law.

Generally, courts set apart to each spouse their non-marital assets and debts, and then distribute the marital assets and debts between the parties. In dividing the marital assets and debts though, the court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal.

Equitable distribution is a court evolved concept in Florida. It is used to achieve as fair a division of marital assets as possible. Marital assets are those assets acquired by the parties during their marriage from their work efforts, services, and earnings.

In determining whether certain property is a marital asset, the question is not which party holds title to the asset.

Our statute defines assets and liabilities falling within each of these categories, and establishes certain presumptions to assist in categorizing each asset and liability during a property division. The court then divides the marital assets and liabilities between the spouses.

Dividing Gifts Between Spouses

Under well-established statutory and case law in Florida, is that a gift between spouses during the marriage is actually a marital asset.  But proving something valuable was a gift can be tricky, as people don’t prepare paperwork when they are giving gifts.

A gift between spouses during the marriage is established by showing donative intent, delivery or possession of the gift, and surrender of dominion and control of the gift.

In other words, a gift is made when a donor, intending to make a gift, delivers the gift to the donee and relinquishes all possession and control of the gift.

Was it a Gift or a Loan?

Married couples receive some money from third parties – such as parents and other parents – during the marriage: sometimes the money is to carry them over during an emergency. Should that money be divided between them? It depends on whether it was a loan, and they should give the money back, or it was a gift to both of them, and the money is theirs.

Gifts to either spouse from a third party – such as a parent – are considered separate property and are not divided by the court. However, the caution against commingling still applies. If a spouse deposited the money from her parents in a joint account, it then probably became marital property, even if it was intended just for her.

In many divorces, one spouse claims money received from or given to a parent, sibling, etc. was a gift and the other claims it was a loan. Circumstances can be painted in a different light many years after the fact, and lawyers and judges must piece together what information they can to make a case and a decision.

If you receive or make a loan during your marriage, make sure its terms are fully documented in some sort of written and signed promissory note. If you receive or make a gift, draw up simple paperwork indicating specifically to whom the gift is being made, and that there is no expectation of repayment.

 

Divorce & Property Values

Hong Kong is one of the most expensive cities in the world. According to the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department, divorce has steadily increased, and is nearly three times higher than in 1991. Is there a connection between real estate prices, divorce and property divisions?

As Bloomberg reports, the usual suspects for Hong Kong’s sky-high property prices are low interest rates, a housing shortage and demand from mainland China. But there’s another unforeseen factor: divorce.

Demand for separations and remarriages have accelerated sharply over the past two decades as the former British colony has deepened its integration with the mainland.

Between 1976 and 1995, cumulative total 84,788. In the subsequent years, through 2015, divorces shot up to 323,298.

Looser travel restrictions between Hong Kong and the mainland after Britain handed the colony back in 1997 have played a role in encouraging Hong Kong residents to find new partners across the border.

Florida Divorce and Real Estate

I’ve written on the role of divorce and real estate before. In many cases, declining house prices make it less likely that a homeowner will get divorced, but more likely that a renter’s marriage will end. Why?

Generally, courts distribute the marital assets and debts between the parties. In dividing the marital assets and debts though, the court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal.

Equity in the marital home is sometimes the most valuable asset. However, during periods of market downturns, the equity is a lot less, and home values can sometimes be upside down. When the equity is too low to distribute, or selling a house may mean a loss, people don’t want to sell, and have to stay married.

Researchers also think that the drop in divorce rates probably have something to do with the fact that a drop in the equity in your house traps unhappy couples in their house. However, renters can find two affordable apartments easier.

The Case of Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s housing planners didn’t anticipate the wave of break-ups. The cumulative gross number of new domestic housing units built between 1976 and 1995 reached 1,267,335. In the 19 years afterwards that number dropped to 857,378.

The divorce phenomenon is feeding into a market frenzy that the Hong Kong government has found increasingly tricky to manage. As mortgage lending booms and prices reach records, a mix of rising interest rates, frothy property valuations and the potential for a market collapse are frequently flagged as one of the biggest risks to the economy.

In cases of marriage break ups, both members of a former couple can end up on waiting lists for public housing, with private homes proving unattainable.

Households need 18 years of median income to buy a home, more than anywhere else in the world.

The Bloomberg article is here.

 

Unequal Property Division

A Husband recently demanded an unequal property division in his divorce. He wanted more than half of a $225 million fortune, and for his Ex to get about $6 million. He claimed he was entitled to more than half because of his “genius”. Are you entitled to more than half in a divorce?

Valuing Genius

Randy Work, 49, a former executive at Texas-based private equity firm Lone Star, had first claimed that his wife of 20 years, Mandy Gray, was entitled to only $6m because she had an affair with the couple’s personal physiotherapist.

The pair, who are both American and have two teenage children, met in 1992 and married in 1995. They split up in 2013 when Gray began an affair with the couple’s physiotherapist, 44, who she now lives with in a rented flat in Kensington.

A British high court judge rejected the Husband’s claim that he made an “exceptional contribution” to the marriage and was therefore entitled to more than a 50-50 split of the couple’s assets, which include a mansion in West London, complete with swimming pool and fitness center and a ski lodge in Aspen.

Ruling on their divorce in 2015 Justice Holman told the businessman that his wealth contribution – which Work said totaled more than $300m in 10 years – was not “wholly exceptional” and rejected his claim to be a financial “genius”.

“I personally find that a difficult, and perhaps unhelpful, word in this context,” Holman said. “To my mind, the word ‘genius’ tends to be overused and is properly reserved for Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart, Einstein and others like them.”

Work, who has spent at least $3m fighting to keep his wife from collecting half of the family fortune, took the case to the court of appeal which on Tuesday unanimously rejected his appeal against the trial judge’s ruling.

Florida Property Division

I’ve written about property division in Florida many times before. Property division, or equitable distribution as it is called in Florida, is governed by statute and case law.

Generally, courts set apart to each spouse their nonmarital assets and debts, and then distribute the marital assets and debts between the parties. In dividing the marital assets and debts though, the court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal.

However, if there is a justification for an unequal distribution, as in the Work divorce, the court must base the unequal distribution on certain factors, including: the contribution to the marriage by each spouse; the economic circumstances of the parties, the duration of the marriage, or any interrupting of personal careers or education.

Additionally, courts can consider the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the nonmarital assets of the parties.

However, courts generally can’t base unequal distribution on one spouse’s disproportionate financial contributions to the marriage unless there is a showing of some “extraordinary services over and above the normal marital duties.”

The English Divorce

During the divorce hearing Holman had said the case “should be so easy” to settle as there was “plenty of money to go round” and criticized the couple for descending into “unedifying and destructive pugilism”.

“In our view the husband has failed to demonstrate that Holman J’s decision was wrong,” three court of appeal judges said.

London has become known as the divorce capital of the world because British judges tend not to discriminate between breadwinner and homemaker and order equal splits of combined fortunes.

However, Work had hoped to convince the court of appeal judges to allow him to join those few men who had been granted more than half of the combined assets in a divorce in recognition of the “wholly exceptional nature” of their success.

Holman had ruled that although Work was an “astute businessman”, Gray was a “highly intelligent” woman who had given up her career to follow her husband to Tokyo, where he made hundreds of millions of pounds exploiting the Japanese financial crisis.

“A successful claim to a special contribution requires some exceptional and individual quality in the spouse concerned. Being in the right place at the right time or benefiting from a period of boom is not enough,” Holman said.

“It may one day fall for consideration whether a very highly paid footballer, who is very good at his job but may be no more skillful than past greats, such as Stanley Matthews or Bobby Charlton, makes a special contribution or is merely the lucky beneficiary of the colossal payments now made possible by the sale of television rights.”

Holman said Work and Gray, 47, had been “two strong and equal partners” and he would not have been able to amass his vast fortune without her contribution.

The Guardian article is available here.

 

Dissipation: Wasting Money in Divorce

Mary J. Blige, has filed for divorce from her estranged husband, Martin “Kendu” Isaacs. In court filings, there are allegations that he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on his girlfriends. How does this impact the property division?

Mary has won nine Grammy Awards, four American Music Awards, and has recorded eight multi-platinum albums. She is the only artist with Grammy Award wins in R&B, Rap, Gospel, and Pop. However, she is now concerned about dirty tricks in divorce.

Dirty Tricks

Some couples divorce in a business-like, and even a friendly way. They recognize that coming to a fair end as quickly as possible allows them to get on with their lives.

However, there is no shortage of dirty tricks in divorce. One of the most common is to “dissipate,” or intentionally squander money so a spouse can’t get a fair share of it in the divorce.

Mary and her husband Martin married back in 2003. The divorce cited irreconcilable differences as the reason for the split. The couple has no children together. Mary is purportedly asking the judge to deny Martin’s ability to get spousal support.

According to TMZ, in recent filings, Martin is accused of having dissipated $420,000 of the parties’ marital funds. Martin was Mary’s manager. So, it could be that much of the money allegedly spent on himself or a girlfriend can be chalked it up as “travel charges.” However, Mary alleges the $420,000 in expenses were not business-related.

Property Division

In Florida divorces, courts distribute the marital assets and liabilities between the parties with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution. I’ve written about various aspects of property division before.

Some of the factors to justify an unequal distribution of the property include things like the financial situation the parties. The length of the marriage, whether someone has interrupted their career or an educational opportunity, or how much one spouse contributed to the other’s career or education.

Dissipation and Waste

One of the relevant factors courts look to is whether one of the parties intentionally dissipated, wasted, depleted, or destroyed any of the marital assets after the filing of the petition or within 2 years prior to the filing of the petition.

Spouses could dissipate assets by spending money on girlfriends, as Mary alleges. Other instances of waste have included gambling losses, and drug usage. Some people would rather lose the money outright than split it with their spouses.

Where this kind of marital misconduct results in a depletion or dissipation of marital assets, it can serve as a basis for unequal division of marital property. Alternatively, the misconduct can also be assigned to the spending spouse as part of that spouse’s equitable distribution.

Martin is purportedly asking for more than $110,000 per month in spousal support, which Mary objects to. Mary is quoted as saying: “I am not responsible for supporting [Martin’s] parents and his children from another relationship which he lists as ongoing monthly expenses.”

The TMZ article is here.