Hidden ‘treasure’ resurfaces after marriage to captain sinks
By: Dr. Mike Gora
Q: My ex-wife and I have been divorced for about eight years. We had gone on a vacation to the “Romantic Far East,” and she came back in love with the ship’s captain. The two of them were married soon after our divorce, and moved to California. Our divorce was contentious. We fought over every nickel, and child custody. Looking back at that time, I am embarrassed that we put the children through the mess that we did, just because we were aggravated with each other.
A couple of weeks ago I got an e-mail from the “new husband,” who is now her ex-husband. He’s let me know that during my divorce the ex-wife bragged to him that she, somehow, took about $250,000 of our money and bought a jumbo CD at a bank in San Diego, which I never found. He said that she still has the money, and sent me the name of the bank and certificate number. In their divorce, she listed the money as her separate property, so she would not have to share it with him.
During our divorce, she filed a couple of financial affidavits, and testified both in a deposition and at trial. At no time was the $250,000 CD mentioned. Is there anything that I can do about that now? Can I get my share of that money? Can I have her arrested for perjury?
A: If the captain’s story is correct, and you can prove that your ex-wife hid $250,000 of marital funds from you and the court, at the time of your divorce, you should be able to get a court to order her to pay at least half the hidden amount to you. In addition, you may be awarded interest, and reasonable attorney’s fees for the effort, although your attorney will expect payment for his or her efforts up front.
Hiding marital assets constitutes a fraud on you and on the court. Under present Florida law there is no statute of limitations barring pursuit of such a claim, although you should act immediately. If the CD still exists, your attorney should consider filing an immediate claim for an injunction, prohibiting the ex-wife from removing the money from the bank, or doing anything else to interfere with your rights to the funds. If the money is no longer in a CD, but has been spent, or taken a different form of investment, collection may be more difficult.
It is always difficult to predict how the police and State Attorney in your county will look at the criminal aspect of your ex-wife’s behavior. On occasion, they tell you to pursue your civil remedies. If you pursue the criminal remedies, it may have an adverse effect on your relationship with your children. Just think carefully about pursuing criminal remedies, as it may have some unintended consequences.