A Supreme Court judge in New York recently referred to a divorce litigant as “despicable”. What could possibly garner this strong reaction from an otherwise cool, calm and collected judicial official?
Just before the litigant’s wife filed for divorce, her husband decided to come clean with the tax authorities and filed amended tax returns for 2004 to 2007, disclosing an additional $1.6 million of income from his contracting business.
As a result, he owed the IRA $1.2 million in taxes, a sum that was coincidentally equivalent to the value of the family home. He also made it very easy for the IRA, when he attached to his tax returns details of the assets he owned, the bank who held the mortgage on the family home, and other pertinent collection information.
The wife was shocked and horrified because the law in New York, as in many other jurisdictions, including British Columbia, provides that a debt incurred during the marriage will be a family debt that is shareable between spouses.
The couple had been married for almost fifteen years and had four children.
The New York Supreme Court considered the husband’s evidence of the large family debt and determined that the husband had made the disclosure, not because he was being audited or investigated, but because he wished to cause as much pain as possible to his wife. The trial judge found that his conduct was malicious and revenge was his motive.
Unfortunately, for this husband, his plan backfired, as the court held that given the egregious circumstances, he would be solely responsible for the debt.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang