When entering into a divorce, the financial status of each party is a topic of great importance and contention. The identification of assets and liabilities is crucial to the equitable distribution process and separating a couple. However, this process can become extremely difficult if you become aware of financial actions that were taken by your spouse, during your marriage, without your knowledge. If you have realized a discrepancy in your spouse’s financial records, bring this to your Orlando Divorce Attorney’s attention immediately to discuss the options available to you.
If your spouse made poor financial investments or took out loans without your direct authorization, it is important to distinguish these financial liabilities as nonmarital property. Florida statute provides, “any liability incurred by forgery or unauthorized signature of one spouse signing the name of the other spouse,” to be nonmarital property. (61.075) However, it is important to note, the court does not consider this non marital property if you discovered the forgery or unauthorized signature and ratified such action. Ratification has been seen by the court in the simple inaction of the spouse to cancel the outstanding loan. Therefore, if you have become aware of a loan or investment that your spouse affixed your signature to without your permission, notify your Orlando Divorce Attorney immediately.
Many have found the process of classification of a debt taken out during the marriage to be extremely difficult due to the amount of evidence necessary to prove the non-marital classification. For instance, in the case of Mills v. Mills, the case made it to the District Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit before the court classified a debt taken on by the husband to be a non-marital liability. In the Mills case, Husband was known to have invested in many projects during their nearly 40-year marriage. Most of these investments were profitable for the couple. However, in 2007, Husband was involved in a startup company and was required to provide capital that he did not have readily available at the time. Therefore, Husband took out a secured home equity loan on the marital home in the amount of $100,000, falsifying Wife’s signature on the loan documents. Wife and Husband both contend Wife had no knowledge of the loan and Husband forged Wife’s signature. Wife only learned of the loan when the lender threatened to foreclosure on the home if payment on the loan was not received. The couple paid off the loan with Husband’s marital retirement accounts. However, the startup failed, resulting in a loss of $245,475 for the couple. The court of appeals distinguished $100,000 of the $245,475 loss as a nonmarital liability. The court found this to be a nonmarital liability because of the admitted forgery and failure to ratify by Wife. Cases like this are rare, however, are important to understand if you too have found your spouse to have engaged in similar fraudulent activity.
Dividing assets and liabilities between a couple can be a difficult process and becomes even more volatile when fraudulent activity is involved. It is imperative to have a knowledgeable Orlando Divorce Attorney fight for you to protect your rights and financial security. Contact your Orlando Divorce Attorney today to ensure that you receive your fair share of the marital property and do not get overloaded with liabilities.
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