Dear Newsweek, My divorce in 2011 was filed due to 28 years of abuse and irreconcilable differences. We did not have a prenup and my husband obtained citizenship from him when he married me. I borrowed money from my parents to help him in the business and gave birth to five children during our marriage.
My husband used our money to invest with 400 investors in 400 LLC [limited liability companies] in 1990. Created partnerships to invest in properties with the intention of stopping claiming [giving up a claim to] for his safekeeping, while using me and our children to borrow for years until he claimed them. This would leave me and our children insolvent in trusts that he created and that he controls to this day. I hired 20 lawyers and spent a huge amount in legal fees.
my husband forked [dividing into two parts] our divorce in 2011 and they did not inform me because the case was sealed [made no longer public]. But the case continued until 2017, when it was dismissed for lack of prosecution without prejudice, which means I can reopen the case when it’s ready for trial. But this was not possible since my husband controls the trust and the bank gave me inconclusive reports because part of the documents were crossed out.
His best friend set up a trust where he was the trustee of our children, with my husband as guarantor. He owned all the properties with his friend acting as my alter ego to give assets to our children and set up a way to control them through trusts. A family law judge said this is probate [the process of proving a will in a court of law] problem, while a probate judge said it’s a civil case and the lawyers say I can’t reopen the case.
The worst part was in 2020 when my husband went to court to evict me in an unlawful detainer case instead of reopening the divorce case and suing me as a trustee of a trust I created in 1993. The judge allowed this to happen during COVID and He sealed records to give the house to my husband, but I kept the case for trial, saying I won the case because he didn’t give me a 3 day notice and show proof of service. I thought I had won until the court sent the judgment. Now it’s sealed, I can’t prove the judge misled me, and I can’t find a lawyer to help me unravel this mess. I also found out that my husband bought our house before I knew it in 1996.
All the evidence I showed was ignored and his friends sued in other cases at the same time. I think he reported all the cases to a private judge. Now, after living elsewhere with his girlfriend for five years and trying to force me out of the guest house we built on a property in 2005, he recently moved into our newly developed main house and threatened to evict us on April 1st. when the COVID laws end.
Without legal representation to prove the vast amount of fraud that has occurred, I cannot defend myself and even the non-profits will not help, saying this case is too big for them. My husband has complete control over the finances and has used trusts that I had signed thinking it was to protect our family when he was only to protect himself. I never had a statement or interrogatories to prove my case in court. They just took me down a path to end up in limbo with no support orders or an agreement.
news weekis “What should I do?” offers expert advice to readers. If you have a personal dilemma, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can ask experts for advice on relationships, family, friends, money and work, and your story could appear on WSID at news week.
The facts sound extremely unfair to you.
Charlotte Christian is a family and divorce attorney and founder of The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates, which has offices in Alabama, Texas, Illinois, and Nevada.
This dilemma is heartbreaking but it can be resolved. The case would be handled differently depending on the law governing the state (assuming you live in the US) where the divorce was filed and whether the state you live in is a community property state or an equitable division state. .
In community property states, property obtained during the marriage is split 50-50 since that property is considered marital property. Without a prenuptial agreement, in community property states, assets are generally divided equally with limited exceptions. Property owned before the marriage, as well as inherited property, does not automatically become marital property.
In equitable division states, assets are allocated based on a fair allocation determined by a set of guidelines adopted by each state. Keep in mind that “equitable” and “equal” are not the same and are often confused. Equal means both parties. receives the same division. Equitable is a fair distribution of property.
The facts in this case sound grossly unfair to you and the fact that 20 lawyers have been unable to resolve the issues leads to much bigger questions and causes confusion. One of those attorneys should have been the attorney of record and would have been responsible for alerting the wife to the closure of the case and her dismissal. In most cases, an attorney can leverage the court to order the controlling spouse to provide payments on behalf of the divorcing spouse.
Having 20 lawyers poses a bigger problem. Courts generally view this number of lawyers as a problem. I would advise finding a lawyer who can meet with you and explain your plan to reach a resolution and then move forward without having additional lawyer changes. Find a lawyer who can understand the intricacies of this case, as there are many issues, and ask that lawyer to help you find funds. You can also ask the court to have your ex-partner pay your attorney’s fees.
There is a way out of this mess, but this is a crucial stage for you to achieve a fair outcome for yourself and your family so that you can move on with your lives.
Keep a clear timeline of events
Evan Schein is a Partner and Director of Litigation at Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP in New York City.
There seems to be a very long and complicated history filled with financial deception and financial manipulation. This story seems to go back a long way, both during the marriage and in the many years since the divorce was filed in 2011. Getting different answers from different people can be extremely frustrating. Unfortunately, this comes with high legal bills and a lot of time invested.
The issues in this case involve different areas and that may be the reason for the different answers as to which court to proceed in or how best to proceed. In situations like this, it can be very helpful to have a schedule with clear dates and details for providing a lawyer and the court if litigation is started. If hiring another attorney is financially prohibitive at this time, your local bar association may be able to provide resources or advice.
Contact legal aid groups for free or low-cost services
Holly J. Moore is a family law attorney based in Riverside, California and owner of the Moore Family Law Group.
You may want to consider contacting legal aid organizations or non-profit organizations that specialize in helping victims of domestic violence or financial abuse. These organizations can provide you with free or low-cost legal services or connect you with resources that can help you get the support you need.
Given the complexity of your case and the multiple layers of legal issues involved, it may be helpful to seek the help of an experienced attorney who specializes in probate and trust litigation, as well as divorce and family law. Work with an attorney who has strong experience in these areas of the law and who can provide the support and guidance he needs to navigate this complex process.