Division of assets


#1

My wife and I have been separated for over 18 months. She moved out suddenly one day and left me with in the house with the bills, repairs, and all that goes with a house. She has created an incredibly difficult environment to try to come to some amicable division of assets and has decided instead to go to court.

Due to some health issues with one of my children, we declared bankruptcy about 6 years ago. The house was left out of the bankruptcy, but the second mortgage was included. I lost my job in 2009 so we started a mortgage modification plan. Due to several errors that she made in paperwork, it took nearly 2 years to resolve and the mortgage company added nearly $30K in fees and past due payments to the end of the mortgage. She is claiming that the house is actually worth more money now than it was in 2005 when we purchased it. At the same time, the house needs about $25K in repairs (foundation, roof, siding). We have no other joint assets as I sold my car when I was laid off to help pay the bills and the car she bought after we were separated was repossessed. We had a joint checking account which I stopped using that she overdrew roughly $1500 )(as since been charged off. We have roughly $10K in medical bills sitting at collection agencies from the same medical issue that were accumulated after the bankruptcy (I have paid this down to $10K form about $13K over the last year or so). I have also loaned her a substantial amount of money over the last 10 months for various things (car repairs, health insurance because she quit her job, life insurance that she couldn’t afford to pay, etc.). My stepdaughter (her daughter) moved in with me in April and is paying $500/mo in rent. I also have a credit card that I didn’t realize she had a card to and she ran up about $1000 in charges before I realized it and cancelled the card. It is easy to track the charges back to her as many of them were incurred while she travelled to places where I didn’t go and at times when I was working.

She believes that many of he “loan” items she shouldn’t have to repay (though I have emails stating that they are loans), she does not believe she is responsible for the medical bills (mostly I think because she believes I am lying about the amount) and she is alleging that I haven’t maintained the house which has caused the value of the home to drop. The repairs are the same repairs the house needed nearly 2 years ago when she moved out, I replaced the heating system last year at a cost of over $5K, and if she would repay the loans, I would have the money to make some of the repairs. She also believes that she should be entitled to half of the $500 in rent because her name is on the house even though she has not contributed to any of the monthly bills (including the mortgage and the HOA) in 2 years.

To me, I see the house as having at least $30-$40K in negative equity between the general decline in value and the repairs necessary. I also don’t believe that she should be entitled to any of the rent as she does not contribute to the cost of the asset generating the revenue. I am willing to accept the loss on the home at this point (as in not making her pay me for half the repairs or negative equity which we would suffer if the house were sold) because the kids and I have lived here for more than 6 years and it is the only stable home that two of them know (she has lived in 3 different places over the last 6 months). Furthermore, if I have something in writing stating that the loan items in question were loans, am I stretching reality to believe that they should be repaid? She also is in possession of the engagement ring which is worth in excess of $10K. There are additional debts and circumstances that I could go into, but it isn’t necessary to do into them now. What should I expect when this is divided by the courts? I believe I have tried to do the right thing in lending her money to while she wasn’t working as well as placing her on my insurance through work because it was cheaper than cobra; all things she denies she should have to repay. My attitude has been to just pay back the money you borrowed and lets call it a day.


#2

You should consult with an attorney to create a plan of action for you. If you cannot work out a separation agreement at this point, then you may need to file for equitable distribution, mostly to cover the house debt. Regarding your loans, if you have proof in writing (email or contract) then a court would certainly weigh that in the overall evidence. If they are loans, and you have her agreeing to this in writing, then she will be responsible to pay them back. That isn’t even necessarily a family law issue. That would just be a civil action for you to recover what you are owed. The marital debts and assets need to be negotiated through equitable distribution.