Has Your Client Ever Maliciously Complied With Divorce Court Order? What Happened as a Result?
He wasn’t my divorce client at the time, but he told me this story about his malicious compliance with his divorce settlement/decree.
First, you need to understand that while the ends do not justify the means, this man was taken advantage of by his wife when she divorced him and felt she could do so with impunity. With that in mind, here is the story:
The parties agreed to sell the family business and divide the sales proceeds between them equally as part of the divorce settlement. This was one of those situations where the husband had started the business and the wife had no direct involvement in the business itself. He knew everything about the business, handled everything in the business, and the wife expected him to handle everything regarding the sale of the business.
This couple were in their seventies when they divorced. Both were beyond retirement age, so instead of husband continuing to work to pay alimony, Wife expected to live large off of her half of the business sales proceeds (the business was pretty valuable).
But wife and her attorney did not take care in ensuring the terms for the business sale of the business were drafted specifically (and in fairness, I don’t think it ever occurred to them or to husband’s own attorney that they needed to do so). All the settlement provided is that the business would be sold, that the husband would handle all the details of the sale, and that the sales proceeds would be divided equally. The settlement agreement did not provide that the business must be sold for as much money as could reasonably be obtained or anything like that. You can see where this is going.
Husband sold the business at a fire sale price (but not for so little as to shock the conscience), gave wife her half of the money, then promptly spent all of his half, and moved in with one of his kids, who welcomed him and happily took care of him (the kids were angry with Mom for kicking Dad to the curb). Wife brought husband back to court every year to grill him about whether he had any assets (hidden or otherwise) that she could seize. That’s how I met him—at one of her debtor’s examinations.
He got a ride to the courthouse in a friend’s car. He was wearing thrift store clothes (I know because he was asked where he bought them), and when asked how much money he had in his wallet (yes, she asked), he showed her an empty one (he had clearly run this gauntlet before). Throughout he had the most serene-yet-smug look on his face I’ve ever seen.
Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277division of assets, divorce, law stories, Maliciously Complied