Is It a Crime for Your Spouse to Mishandle Your Money?
Almost every couple disagrees about money during their marriage. If the marriage ends in divorce, most couples are able to reach an agreement about the division of their marital property through mediation, but sometimes the disagreements are so entrenched that a judge must decide at trial. For the most part, the judge only cares about dividing the marital property in the fairest possible way; the judge does not care whose fault it is that you are in a worse financial situation now than you were when you got married. The exception is if one spouse can prove that the other committed marital misconduct, defined as one spouse intentionally causing financial harm to the other spouse. This can involve selling marital assets at a loss or titling assets in someone else’s name so that they will not count as marital property subject to division. You know it is bad, though, when one spouse faces criminal charges for making false statements that caused financial harm to the other spouse. If your spouse tanked your finances on purpose, contact a Boca Raton divorce lawyer.
This Is Why Prenuptial Agreements Exist
It was a case worthy of the attention of lawyers in various practice areas, from elder law to criminal law to family law. In the summer of 2019, 77-year-old Richard Rappaport of Tampa met 26-year-old Lin Halfon, and they married shortly thereafter. Both parties claimed that they had the best of intentions; Rappaport believed that their friendship was genuine, and he wanted to marry Halfon so that she could gain U.S. permanent residency through their marriage. In December, Halfon drew three cashier’s checks on Rappaport’s bank account, for a total amount of $1 million. Her acquaintance John Grancer cashed two of the checks in New Jersey, but when Halfon tried to cash the third at an Amscot store in Tampa, the employees became suspicious.
Rappaport filed for divorce from Halfon in January 2020. Halfon eventually served 13 months in jail for fraud; Grancer and another co-conspirator, Jaycee Wasco, also faced criminal charges. During Halfon’s criminal trial, her lawyer argued that it is not possible for a wife to steal from her husband and that the money Halfon withdrew was marital property.
This is an extreme case, both in the difference in the spouses’ ages and financial situations and in how overtly the wife attempted to deprive the husband of money. It does, however, serve as a cautionary tale about the importance of discussing finances and signing a prenuptial agreement if one or both spouses own substantial assets at the time of the marriage. If you don’t, then you are subject to the court’s definitions of what is marital property.
Contact Schwartz | White About Divorcing After a Brief Marriage
A South Florida family law attorney can help you if you found out soon after you got married, but not soon enough, that your spouse was using you for money. Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.