What Happens If My Spouse Forged My Signature to Take Out a Loan?
In a Florida divorce proceeding, the court will identify any “nonmarital assets and liabilities” that should be excluded from the equitable distribution of marital assets. For example, an asset acquired by either spouse prior to marriage is normally considered a nonmarital asset. Similarly, a debt incurred by just one spouse before marriage is not considered the responsibility of the other spouse.
Florida law also makes an exception for liabilities “incurred by forgery or unauthorized signature of one spouse signing the name of the other spouse.” In other words, let’s say your spouse forged your signature to a loan document. If you can prove the forgery occurred, the court will not consider the debt a marital liability. Instead, your spouse will be solely responsible for that debt. In addition, the judge has the discretion to award you any attorney’s fees and court costs incurred in proving the forgery.
First District: Ex-Husband Does Not Have to Show How Ex-Wife Used Funds Acquired by Forgery
In a recent decision, the Florida First District Court of Appeal noted that in cases of spousal forgery, it is not necessary to establish how the forger actually spent the wrongfully obtained money. The case before the court, Dampier v. Dampier, involved a former husband’s appeal of a circuit court’s decision to classify a forged debt as a marital liability. As the appeals court explained, the trial judge “rejected the former wife’s explanation concerning the disputed liabilities and determined they were incurred as a result of [her] fraud.” Nevertheless, the judge said the debts were still “marital obligations” because he “could not determine how the illegally obtained funds were spent.”
Such a finding is not required under Florida law, however, as the First District explained. The statute “does not place the burden on the wronged spouse to prove how the funds were used, but makes it mandatory that the party that committed the forgery be assigned the debt.” The only exception to this mandate is if the wronged spouse subsequently “ratifies” the other spouse’s debt, which was not the case here.
Get Advice from a Florida Divorce Lawyer Today
It should go without saying that forging your spouse’s signature to obtain a loan is both unacceptable and illegal. And while it is not a common occurrence, many individuals find that when they enter divorce proceedings, they lack full knowledge of their marital assets and liabilities. In some cases, they may have inadvertently approved or “ratified” a debt incurred by the other spouse.
This is why it is critical to work with an experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney who can help you in conducting a full review of your marital finances. You may discover assets and liabilities that you previously lacked knowledge of. And if there has been any misconduct on the part of your estranged spouse, your lawyer can represent you in making your case to the judge.
So if you need guidance or advice in connection with any Florida divorce or family law matter, contact WiseLieberman, PLLC, today to schedule a confidential consultation.