A New Jersey Court “Pierces” a Divorce Judgment to Recover Funds Stolen by Ex-Spouse

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq., a NJ Elder Abuse Attorney

A recent case of financial elder abuse involved a mom who received a large inheritance upon the death of her husband.  She then moved to live with her son and his wife. The son set up a joint account for the inheritance and pledged to use the money to help care for his mother. Unfortunately this did not end up being the case, as the son transferred a large sum of the money immediately to a separate account and then slowly drained the rest of the account until there were insufficient funds to care for the mother.

After the son and his wife separated, the son placed the money taken from the inheritance into an account solely in his ex-wife’s name. At the divorce proceedings, the ex-wife was awarded all of the money in the account. After the death of her mother, the daughter and sister to the defendant, filed a suit claiming elder abuse, but the son/brother claimed the money could not be touched since he no longer had it as it was in his ex-wife’s bank account.

The trial court held that both the son and his ex-wife were liable for elder abuse. They found that the funds were transferred to the ex-wife in the divorce proceedings with the intent to shield them from the estate of the deceased mother and that regardless of whether the divorce was done in good faith or not, the transfer was nonetheless considered fraudulent. The ex-wife was not able to defend herself by claiming the divorce was legitimate. The Court instead focused on the fact that the transfer itself was done to protect the money from a probable elder abuse lawsuit and regardless of whether the couple decided to split up in good faith, the transfer itself was fraudulent and voidable. The case was upheld upon appeal and the ex-wife was found liable for elder abuse along with the son, meaning the funds had to be given back and the former couple forced to pay damages to the daughter of the abused. Elder abuse can take a number of forms. You need to act upon your suspicions before it is too late to recover the stolen money.

Contact me personally to discuss your NJ Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation matter. I am easy to talk to, very approachable and can offer you practical, legal ways to handle your concerns. You can reach me toll free at (855) 376-5291 or email me at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.

 

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