With emotions heightened and the future uncertain, some spouses can easily rationalize committing divorce fraud. They may hide or misrepresent assets to skew the divorce settlement in their favor. Fortunately, you do have some legal recourse in these situations. This article will explain the various types of divorce fraud and how to rectify them.
You must petition the court to reopen your divorce settlement within a certain timeframe in divorce fraud cases.
Speak with a Family Law Attorney Today
Divorce orders are not easily challenged in Colorado courts. You need an experienced family law attorney by your side. Call 303-688-0944 today to begin your free case assessment, o lláme al 720-359-2442 para hablar con alguien en español.
Challenging a Divorce Settlement
Once a divorce agreement has been signed by a judge, either spouse may ask the court to reopen it for several reasons. A court may give your case a second look if you can prove your spouse committed divorce fraud, hid assets, or lied about those assets.
Under Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure 60(b)(2), you can ask a judge to reopen your divorce decree in cases of “fraud (whether heretofore denominated intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party.” C.R.C.P. 60
You must file a motion alleging fraud within 182 days of your final divorce decree.
Concealed or Misstated Assets
Colorado law has a separate rule that allows you to reopen a property settlement within five years if you discover your spouse hid or misrepresented his/her assets:
If a disclosure contains a misstatement or omission materially affecting the division of assets or liabilities, any party may file and the court shall consider and rule on a motion seeking to reallocate assets and liabilities based on such a misstatement or omission, provided that the motion is filed within 5 years of the final decree or judgment. C.R.C.P. 16.2
A Colorado Divorce Fraud Case Example
Background: In re Marriage of Hunt
Karen Hunt filed for divorce from her husband, Shane, in July 2012. Two months later, the former spouses agreed to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that divided her husband’s construction business. Karen received a 50 percent share valued at $250,000.
After the MOU provisions had been incorporated into the permanent divorce order, Karen made a discovery: The construction business, valued at $740,000 by her husband’s valuation expert, was in fact worth over $2 million.
Wife Moves to Re-Open
Karen petitioned an Elbert County district court to reopen the property division proceedings. However, the court found that Shane had not committed fraud because “[t]he parties simply made the choice to go forward [with the MOU] without seeking additional information.” In re Marriage of Hunt, 2015 COA 58, ¶ 6, 353 P.3d 911, 912
Wife Files Appeal
A Colorado appeals court found that Shane had failed to provide Karen with three years’ worth of personal and business financial statements, in addition to other important financial documents. The court found that the burden was on Shane to disclose these records to Karen – not on Karen to request them from Shane, as his attorney claimed.
The court reversed the trial court’s denial and remanded the case for reconsideration of the property division.
Divorce Fraud Rules Do Not Apply to Alimony Payments
These rules are limited to material assets and liabilities. Colorado law does not permit courts to modify spousal maintenance payments on the basis of divorce fraud. In re Marriage Dadiotis, 2014 COA 28, ¶ 10, 343 P.3d 1017, 1019
The Court May Award Damages
James and Cynthia Gance ended their marriage in 1997. At the permanent orders hearing, the court discovered that James had hidden and dissipated about $305,000.
About 10 months later, Cynthia learned that James had bought a $416,000 house several days after the court entered permanent orders. James put down $100,000 in cash on his new house. Cynthia only discovered the purchase after she was contacted by a U.S. Treasury Department officer who was investigating 11 $9,900 deposits James and his girlfriend made in separate banks on the same day shortly after the permanent orders hearing.
Cynthia asked the court to reexamine the property division indicated in the permanent orders. She also filed a separate fraud claim against James, requesting compensatory and exemplary damages.
The court modified the original property distribution, giving each spouse $55,000. Additionally, the court found in Cynthia’s favor on her fraud claim and awarded her $55,000 in compensatory damages.
Further, because it also found that James’ conduct was willful and wanton, the court awarded Cynthia an additional $55,000 in exemplary damages. In re Marriage of Gance, 36 P.3d 114, 116 (Colo. App. 2001)
Talk to an Attorney Today About Divorce Fraud
Colorado courts rely on divorcing spouses to provide an honest representation of their finances and assets during property distribution. Our attorneys can help you if your former spouse did not uphold his or her end of the bargain. Call 303-688-0944 today to begin your free case assessment, o lláme al 720-359-2442 para hablar con alguien en español.