Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

What is Divorce Planning?

Throughout my years as a New Jersey divorce attorney, I have handled countless cases involving “divorce planning.” Following you shall please find an excellent example. Also, you shall learn about one of the most dramatic stories I have ever heard as a New Jersey divorce lawyer regarding how two people ended up getting married in the first place. Let’s explore.

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The parties were married for about fifteen years and had two children. The husband owned a lucrative excavating business and now he is sitting in my office a New Jersey divorce lawyer and he opens with one wild story.

This gentleman (for purposes of this blog, let’s call him Dave) explained to me that his wife (let’s call her Susan) had, “set him up,” in order to induce him to marry her. He explained that a few years ago he and his wife were at a neighborhood party. Everyone was sitting around the table, drinking wine and telling old stories. Then his wife stands up and declares, “I have a real doozy!”

Susan explains to the crowd that back before she and her husband became a couple, he was dating her best friend. Well following a night of drinking, Dave fell asleep, alone in his bed. Susan explained that she took off her panties, put them on the floor and left. The following morning she then called her best friend and told her that she “suspects” Dave cheated on her last night. The girlfriend went straight to Dave’s apartment, found the panties on the floor and broke up with him. Then Susan leaped in, told Dave that she had always loved him and the rest is history.

Back in my office, Dave tells me that at the very moment he was mortified. He had no idea about any of this even though they had been married over ten years up to this point. Moreover, finding out in the midst of a group of friends and neighbors was humiliating. Dave, feeling betrayed, then shared with me how he began to secretly divorce plan so that Susan would walk away with empty pockets. Meanwhile, Susan thought everything was just fine.

First, Dave convinced Susan that they should sell their home and move into an empty house that just happened to sit on his parent’s land. He convinced her that with his mom right next door, she could help out with the kid’s. He also told Susan that as they were selling at the height of the real estate market, they would maximize their net profit. Susan agreed, they sold the marital home and moved into there new home, which was still owned by Dave’s parents. Dave’s plan was in action.

Shortly thereafter, Dave told Susan that his excavating business was in the red and could be facing bankruptcy. They then both agreed to invest the net proceeds that they had received from the house into the business. Then, over the next few years, Dave stopped paying most federal and state taxes yet bough huge pieces of construction machinery and the like.

All the while, Dave understood that, as he started his business during the marriage, Susan would have a marital claim after a forensic accountant placed a value on his business. However, by running the business into debt, especially significant tax debt, by the time the accountants valued the business, it was literally worth zero dollars.

All told, this is “Divorce Planning 101.” Dave successfully ran the family’s finances into the ground so that the wife walked away with virtually nothing. When I asked Dave about the sad state of his business, he gave me a smirk and confidently stated, “I’ll make it all back … and some.” And that folks, is what you call divorced planning.