In my previous essay regarding divorce and white collar wives I talked about the emotional and moral aspect of divorcing your white collar criminal husband. In this essay I will talk about the devastating financial fallout of white collar crime and how divorce can help to remedy this aspect of "the bomb". As a white-collar-wife mentor I get asked this question a lot: "Should I get a divorce?" My answer to that question is a resounding, "Yes!". To be clear, under normal circumstances I am not an advocate for divorce unless and until all other remedies have been tried and failed. But the fallout from a white collar crime brings with it a wrecking ball that can and does bring down even the strongest of homes.Would you and your children stand in the middle of your home while it was being demolished? Of course not.
So let's get to it. At any time during the course of the investigation of your husband's "alleged" financial crime(s), your assets are at risk. By assets, I mean, ANY AND ALL assets. Your home, your automobiles, your checking account, your savings account, your furniture, the bracelet you inherited from your grandmother, etc. You get the picture? If your husband is or has been the target of a grand jury, (and he may or many not have any idea that this is taking place), and that grand jury decides there is enough evidence to take to a judge for an indictment(s), then you are at great risk for having your assets frozen before your husband ever steps into a courtroom to determine his guilt or innocence. Asset forfeiture/seizure is a common practice in white collar criminal actions as the funds derived from the sale of these assets go toward restitution to the victims who were "robbed" of their own assets as a result of your husband's crime. This is as it should be. But because you are married to a possibly guilty party to a financial crime means that just as your husband will have a debt to pay, so will you. Joint marital assets are in fact, "for better or for worse".
The law and enforcement of innocent spouse laws are all over the place regarding criminal/civil and federal restitution. In many cases wives of white collar criminals have had to hire expensive attorneys to protect their assets when the innocent spouse laws in their state, (if there are any), should have been enforced properly to begin with. Sadly, the only way to protect your portion of your marital assets is to divide your property through a divorce action the moment you learn of an investigation. This sounds like a hasty, harsh and extreme measure but as the FIRST victim of your husband's crime you and your children are entitled to YOUR half of YOUR assets. There have been many instances where husband's and wives have panicked and made the rookie mistake of simply putting all assets into the names of family members thinking this action will protect their assets against seizure. DO NOT MAKE THIS SAME MISTAKE!!! Hiding assets, (especially in plain sight), will only make matters worse because it is ILLEGAL!! The ONLY remedy to this most unfortunate event is through divorce proceedings and division of assets at the ONSET of a criminal investigation. There are prosecutors as well as judges who will see this move as a ploy to hide assets if you wait too long into the process of the investigation or god forbid, after arrest. Some will say ending a marriage in this manner is too extreme a measure. But the law of physics clearly states that to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The act of committing a white collar crime is akin to a 7,2 earthquake that is followed by smaller but equally devastating aftershocks.
Filing for divorce is not a ploy to hide assets. THIS IS AN OPTION THAT YOU ARE EXERCISING to protect yourself and your children against the crime that was committed against you. A husband who places his family in harms way has defaulted on his marital obligation on an epic scale and any judge who has a problem with this thinking can take it up with me. I am not an attorney. What I am is an advocate for justice for innocent spouses and children whose rights are too often negated when it comes to asset forfeiture and seizure as a result of a spouse's white collar crime. Opting out of a marriage and taking your portion of your assets with you is not hiding assets. However, opting out of a marriage, taking your assets with you and then continuing on as a married couple is akin to giving the finger to the Feds and I can't get behind that action. The decision to divorce is never an easy one but remaining married to someone who held such little regard for his own family, (white collar criminals often rationalize that they are stealing money FOR the betterment of their family's lifestyle), is undeserving of your commitment to him. There is no nobility or good intentions in committing a financial crime for one's family or for any other reason for that matter.
Innocent spouses can and must protect themselves against the fallout of their spouses white collar crimes. To not perform proactively and instead "wait and see" is a calculated risk that can have devastating and long lasting harmful and irreversible consequences for you and your children. Is this an extreme measure? Yes, of course. But your husband's actions were also extreme and warrant an equally extreme remedy.
I am a former White Collar Wife writing about my experience of recovery.
- I began blogging on the subject of white collar wives after experiencing the devastating consequences of my, (former), husband's financial crime. My goal was to reach other women who are suffering or have suffered as I did so that they wouldn't have to walk this dark and uncertain path alone. The blog also serves to educate the public regarding the stigma wives and families face as a result of guilt by association. The truth is that wives and children are the FIRST victims of many white collar crimes as a result of the acute breach of trust and ensuing financial ruin that is brought upon them by a man whose primary obligation is to protect his family. As a result of the positive response to my blog essays I created a private on-line support group, The Secret Lives of White Collar Wives. The purpose of the group is to provide a safe and private place of acceptance and empowerment. Our community continues to grow both nationally as well as internationally. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a private screening into the group. (A request made directly to the group page will not be accepted).
In addition to my advocacy work on behalf of white collar wives and families I have developed a lecture on ethics in the workplace. I urge all who are serious about compliance and risk to contact me for a compelling hour of "Truth and Consequences: Easy Money Isn't Easy" from a new voice with a new perspective on enforcement. Humans are vulnerable to many temptations and too often fail to consider the dire consequences one bad decision can have on their and their families lives.