A very interesting case out of Florida highlights the potential pitfalls of obtaining a divorce without consulting an attorney and following the proper legal procedures.
In the case, a woman who was a North Carolina resident secured a divorce from her husband of 24 years in the state of Florida, where the couple owned property but did not reside.
However, Florida law dictates that all persons must reside in the state for at least six months before they can file for a divorce. Ordinarily this practice, although contrary to Florida law, would probably not draw the attention of law enforcement officials.
But in this case, the woman’s husband was suffering from a form of dementia similar to Alzheimer’s and eventually died shortly after the 2009 divorce.
In the divorce, the woman obtained nearly all of the couple’s assets. Her husband, however, received nearly all the couple’s debts, including a quarter-million dollars owed to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and various credit card companies.
He was thus left without the funds necessary to manage his condition and provide for his welfare as the condition advanced. In fact, it is also unclear whether he was competent to even sign the divorce papers as he was already suffering from dementia at the time of the divorce.
A Florida State Attorney’s Office is now conducting a criminal investigation into the matter. According to prosecutors, the woman allegedly committed perjury when she lied about her state of residence in order to secure a Florida divorce.
She has already spent four days in a North Carolina jail and was extradited to Florida, where she now may stand trial for perjury and other criminal charges.
Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …
To learn more about dissolution of marriage, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional. Names have been withheld to protect the identity of the parties.
This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.
The Saint Augustine Record, “Divorce case prompts criminal probe” Sept. 20, 2011