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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Attorney
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Experience:  Began practicing law in 1992
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Can I sue my wife in florida for breach of trust?

Resolved Question:

Can I sue my wife in florida for breach of trust?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Thomas McJD replied 2 years ago.
What type of breach of trust? Could you please provide some more facts/context. Without that, there's no way to really address your question.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

My wife and I moved into a house together last September, before we were married. I paid (and still pay) all the household bills. She was/is self-employed, and has a fair amount of money in savings plus a 401K. She maintained that's not enough money to move out should we split up. She also has some deep abandonment issues because of things that happened to her in the past


 


We had relationship issues even before we were married, and after a particularly bad fight last December 27th, I offered to show I was sincere in my belief we could make it as a couple by giving her a check for $5000 to hold in the event we couldn't make it. I even wrote "security deposit" on the check. There is no agreement in writing, other than what I wrote on the check. We agreed the money would be spent to help her move out if we split up and she promised to hold on to the money until we both decided we were secure in our relationship. We married in the spring. Things between us haven't gotten better and I've asked for a divorce. The basis for my request is that she is verbally abusive and I take the bait more quickly each time we argue. I know this probably isn't relevant, but I just can't take any more.


 


The issue I'm running into now is that she refuses to use the money to move out. She has also refused to return it and demanded yet another $5000 (half of what I have remaining in liquid savings) to move out immediately. What follows when I refuse is a threat to make my life hell.


 


I have a feeling I screwed myself, but I want to know what my options are, specifically with regard to breach of trust. Can I even sue, and if so, could I win?


 


 

Expert:  Thomas McJD replied 2 years ago.
Sorry, I am not the best expert to assist you. I will opt out. This will allow another expert to assist you. Please do not respond to this message. Thanks for your patience.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 2 years ago.
From where was the money obtained that you gave her? Inheritance, money you had before you were married, wages while you were married, etc.?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

It was part of the proceeds I received from the sale of my home, which occurred in 11/2012. Neither one of us was married.

Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 2 years ago.
Today is the first day of 11/2012.

Was it from the sale of a house that was owned before marriage? If so, did you keep the money in a separate account from any other monies?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I'm sorry, the last few days have been exhausting. The home was sold in 11/2011. It was owned, and sold before we were married in 4/2012. We don't have any joint accounts of any kind. I pay the household bills, her healthcare costs, and some of her bills out of my personal account. I never felt we we on solid enough ground to share an account, though we once began, then abandoned, the process of establishing one. I planned to transfer funds into for day-to-day household expenses.


 


Long story short, we've never co-mingled funds and have few marital assets, nothing significant. The only agreement I've entered into since we've been married is the lease on the house we live in. She is listed as a resident, but I qualified for the lease agreement on my own.

Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 2 years ago.
No problem, I suspected that is what you meant but just need to confirm all facts.

In FL there is no "breach of trust" unless there is a formal trust with a trustee involved. You could, theoretically, make an argument that the money was given to her "in trust" but without written documentation I don't think it will apply.

You could, again in theory, sue your wife for a breach of oral contract but doing it outside of a divorce is going to be extremely hard to do for a number of reasons.

It sounds like a divorce is in the works anyway so the most economical, realistic solution is to sue to have the court impose a "constructive trust" over the money you gave her and ask that it be returned. However, there are a couple of issues you need to be aware of.

First, the court may make the assumption/presumption that the money was a gift. Unfortunately, "security deposit" written on a check doesn't really do much to support that it was not a gift, particularly when you said "We agreed the money would be spent to help her move out if we split up..."

She actually has not right to any of the separate property money, but in this case I think it is at least feasible that the court is going to say that since you "made the agreement" and are now asking her to move out then she gets to keep that $5000. Since the rest of the money is separate property then the court really doesn't have jurisdiction to give her any of the rest of it no matter what she wants.

You could argue that by her being "verbally abusive" she now as "unclean hands" and isn't entitled to the money. I think it is going to be a hard argument but it is really the only one you have.

As far as the living arrangements you could ask the court to let her keep the place and give you the money back since the money was expressly to help her move out and get a place of her own. Again, you argue that because she refused to do so she has forfeited the right to the money due to "unclean hands" and you should be able to use it to set yourself up in a new place.

Please ask any follow ups in this thread.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for helping clarify my options. I figured the money was gone, but the fact she wants more is just kind of overwhelming. I'd just like her to go, as there is so much tension right now.


 


Thanks Again.


 


Jim Kaib

Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 2 years ago.
You certainly have my sympathies and my best wishes.

Please don't forget to leave a positive rating. Once you do then it locks the question open for several weeks, if not longer, and then if you have any follow ups questions you can come back here and ask them without having to put up a deposit, etc. Be sure and bookmark this page.
Dwayne B., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 27290
Experience: Began practicing law in 1992
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Dwayne B.
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Began practicing law in 1992