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Court Approves Divorce of Ponzi Scheme Couple

More than five years after the Rothstein’s extravagant lifestyle came crumbling down when the husband’s $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme unraveled, the couple’s’ divorce was granted. Scott Rothstein, a prominent lawyer at a reputable Fort Lauderdale law firm, ran a massive ponzi scheme that was not immune to the 2008 economic crash.

Scott and his former wife, Kim, had to wait for a Broward County judge to grant the no-fault divorce, however, because both of them were incarcerated. Kim Rothstein served 15 months behind bars for trying to hide $1 million of assets, including jewelry, from the authorities. A U.S. district judge, on the other hand, sentenced Scott to 50 years in prison.

No-Fault Divorce Explained

Florida is a “no-fault divorce” state. In other words, either party may seek a divorce without proving any other reason than the spouses no longer want to be married. There are two grounds under Florida law for no-fault divorce: irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or mental incapacity of one of the parties.

Specifically, the spouse seeking the divorce under the first grounds must state the marriage is “irretrievably broken”, which relieves the court from the duty of determining who was at fault for the breakup. An irretrievable breakdown of a marriage results when there is nothing the court can order – such as counseling – to repair the marriage. If no minor children resulting from the union are involved, both parties do not need to agree the marriage is irretrievably broken. If minor children did result from the union, the court must take the best interests of the child (or children) into consideration. If the latter occurs, the court may order the parties to seek counseling and may also delay the proceedings for three months to provide the parties an opportunity to reconcile.

A divorce request based on mental incapacity is more complicated than one that is irretrievably broken. This is because extra consideration is required from the court in order to protect the rights and interests of the incapacitated party. Thus, for a divorce to be granted on this ground the incapacitated party must have been adjudged legally incapacitated for at least three years, among other requirements detailed in the Florida statutes. Moreover, the court may appoint an individual to act as the incapacitated party’s legal representative. Known as a guardian ad litem, this party’s role is to protect the interests and rights of the incapacitated party.

Florida Divorce Attorney

If you or someone you know has questions relating to Florida’s no-fault divorce rules – or any other questions relating to divorces – contact the experienced legal professionals at Steve W. Marsee, P.A. Servicing the legal needs of families throughout Central Florida, our legal professionals can assist you in any family law related questions you may have. Call (407) 521-7171 to schedule your initial consultation.

Steve W. Marsee, P.A.

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