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Is The Money Your Ex-Spouse Borrowed For A “Get Out Fund” A Marital Or Separate Debt?


You probably know some unhappily married people whose biggest obstacle to getting out of their unhappy marriages is money; perhaps you are in that situation yourself.  This is even more difficult for people who are trying to get away from an abusive spouse.  If one spouse insists on controlling all the money and financial decisions, the other sometimes has no choice to save up money in secret, amassing what is known as a “get out” fund, among other more picturesque, if less printable, names.  Putting together a get out fund is simplest if you work and if you and your spouse have separate bank accounts instead of, or in addition to, a joint account, but every survivor of financial abuse knows that becoming financially independent of a controlling spouse is a herculean task.  Some people can only afford to get out of bad relationships by borrowing money from relatives or keeping spare change and dollar bills in a jar at a friend’s house.  Then there are the spouses who wait until after they have filed a divorce petition, but before the respondent has received it, to withdraw money from a joint account and go to a safe place.  If you escaped from an abusive marriage by borrowing your get out fund, a Palm Beach County divorce lawyer can help you get a fair divorce settlement so that you can make a fresh start in life, financially and otherwise.

Wife Withdraws $65,000 from HELOC on the Day of Filing the Divorce Petition

Erik and Bobbie were married for 22 years, during which time Erik worked as a police officer and Bobbie was a stay-at-home parent to the couple’s two daughters.  By the time they separated, the older daughter was an adult, but the younger one was a minor.  Although the appeals court’s decision about alimony and equitable distribution does not go into detail about this, Erik’s abusive behavior toward Bobbie and the children was a factor in the breakdown of the marriage.  On the same day that she filed the divorce petition, Bobbie withdrew just over $65,000 from the couple’s home equity line of credit; she used the money to pay for living expenses for herself and her younger daughter during the pendency of the divorce.  Upon being served with the divorce papers, Erik blocked Bobbie’s access to all of the couple’s bank accounts.

During the divorce trial, the parties disagreed about whether the money Bobbie withdrew from the HELOC was a marital debt or a separate debt.  The trial court determined that it was a marital debt, but Erik contested this issue on appeal.  The appeals court reclassified the money as Bobbie’s separated debt, since she borrowed it on the same day as she filed for divorce.

Contact Us Today for a Consultation

A Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help you get out of a marriage where only one spouse controlled all the financial decisions.  Contact Schwartz | White for a consultation.



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