– from Judith E. in Lisbon, WI

Question Details:

I have just filed a petition for divorce. My husband has now inexplicably decided to begin investments and is now losing our money. He is essentially creating debt. It is a joint account, so I cannot stop him from making these investments. Will I accrue some of this debt even though he has control of our finances?  Is control enough to avoid debt being included in property division?

Family Law Attorney Response:

This is actually a very murky area, and the courts can decide either way. Generally speaking, no. Asset control is not a sufficient basis in avoiding the presumption of equality in property division. In other words, you may end up taking on a portion of this debt.

We can see this demonstrated in the case of Hauge v. Hauge 145 Wis. 2d 600, 427 N.W.2d 154 (Ct. App. 1988). In this case, among other complexities, the husband decided to start investing in Arabian horses – and at great loss. The trial court excluded the wife from the debt when deciding on the property division. The husband appealed, and the court of appeals reversed.

This is only an example, and does not dictate how the court will decide on your case. My advice is to seek legal representation right away to avoid any pitfalls in regards to your situation.

Lawyer Jeff Hughes from Sterling Law Offices, S.C.
Jeff Hughes, J.D.

Managing Partner

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