Kentucky Bankruptcy Law

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Fraud or dissipation of assets and divorce

The Kentucky Supreme Court just issued its decision in Gripshover v. Gripshover, (2005-SC-000729-DG & 2006-SC-000258-DG)(Feb. 21, 2008)(to be published). There is a pretty extensive factual background in the published opinion, but unless you either enjoyed reading cases in law school or aspire to enjoy reading cases in law school, I will focus on some key rulings in the case.

Unfortunately, there are spouses who, when they begin contemplating a divorce, engage in fraudulent maneuvering to hide away assets. This can take the form of transferring property belonging to the marital estate so as to exclude it as marital property in the impending divorce. When this dissipation of marital assets occurs, the trial court can recharacterize assets or pull them back into the marital estate in determing a “just” distribution of property.

In Gripshover, the wife alleged that real property transferred into a limited partnership and other property transferred into a trust defrauded her of her marital interest. The Supreme Court disagreed. For a finding of fraud or dissipation, there has to be evidence that the transfers were made in contemplation of divorce and with the intent to impair the other spouses interest. In this case, no such evidence was produced.

While I do not advocate suspicion within a marriage, it is important for both spouses to be understand the ramifications of significant transfers of property. So, I do advocate both spouses being engaged in the finances of the family.

February 23, 2008 Posted by | dissipation of assets, Divorce, Family Law, Fraud, property allocation | , , , | 4 Comments