Wife loses alimony due to secret money stash

When marriages get unhappy and divorce is on the horizon, there can be a real temptation to hide assets to keep them from the other spouse. But tempting as this may be, it’s morally wrong, and it can also get you into legal trouble.

Take the case of a New Jersey woman who took $350,000 from the business she owned jointly with her husband and secreted it away. Clever as she was, during divorce proceedings a forensic accountant discovered the secret stash.

The woman thought she’d be okay in the end, since the divorce judge simply ordered her to repay half the amount, and proceeded to award her $600 a week in alimony.

But husband didn’t take this lying down. He appealed, arguing that her actions amounted to “egregious fault” that should disqualify her from receiving alimony payments.

A New Jersey appeals court agreed with the husband. In general, it said, under New Jersey law alimony isn’t affected by who was at fault for the marital breakdown. But this was a rare case where the fault was so blatant that the woman shouldn’t be able to get away with it.

The wife did more than just cause marital problems, the court said; she also “kicked” the couple’s economic security “in the teeth” through her scheme to embezzle cash from the business.