Married in 1993. Separated since May of 2009. I filed for divorce
June of 2009. I submitted an asset proposal & child custody
proposal to the court. My wife hired an attorney and responded to the custody proposal but not to the dissolution of assets in 2009. My gross income is $78K/year. In late 2009 I agreed to pay her $2001 per month, as requested by her attorney & calculated by the disso-master. She has not worked since our daughter was born in 1998.
Per verbal agreement I have lived in the family home. The primary loan is for $205K. Payment $1580/month. I estimate the home to be worth about $200K to $250K.
In 2008 we had been planning to buy a 2nd rental home so we took out a $50,000 second mortgage on the family home. The 2nd is in my name only. We had $43K in the bank from this second in summer 2009. I took $20K of the money and put it in another account. She took the other half. She has been making the monthly payment on the half she took. I give her a statement each month, which she has requested, which states that the money is owed by her. Our other rental house needed a new septic system in fall 2009. We split the cost which she borrowed from the 2nd and now agrees that she owes approximately $23,500. I think she spent most of this money on a car and attorney's fees.
There is no equity in either of the houses. Between them we are upside down $40-90K. We have about $9K worth of non liquid assets, cars, tools, furniture. I have a defined benefit retirement account with a cash value of about $70K. No other assets.
In June of 2010 our rental house went vacant and we verbally agreed not to make the payment until we found a renter. We missed one payment of $1280. We owe $150K on this house and it is worth about $110K. The rent had been $1095. I found a renter after it had been vacant for 45 days and I payed the bank all of the first month's rent and the security deposit, a total of $1900. I have been sending the bank all of the rent, $995/month. I/we requested a loan modification but were denied. We are in default on this house. They say we owe about $5k. I have asked in writing for an itemized explanation which they have refused to provide. They returned my last check of $995 because they said it was insufficient to clear the default. I plan to continue to send them all of the rent. My wife and I have discussed attempting a short sale.
I payed my half of the line of credit back by early 2010. From February 2010 to January 2011 I have taken on additional work (I am a high school teacher and have been teaching extra classes). My gross income for 2010 will be approximately $110K. I saved about $25K & I drew out the remaining $27K from the line of credit and now have about $52K in cash. I am looking at buying a $60K house with this plus another $8K in unsecured short term loans. I would like to buy this house and rent it but may move into it eventually if I cannot afford to stay in the family home.
We agreed to do our 2009 taxes jointly. For at least 10 years prior to this we had used zero deductions on my W2 statement and had a sizeable tax return. We used this money to pay our living expenses for the two months for which I don't get a paycheck. The return was almost $16K, $4K more than the previous year. She verbally agreed to accept $500 from this and, of course, I would have to pay the normal family support. After signing the return she changed her mind. I received a letter from her attorney demanding $78xx and stating that I need to pay the family support as well. This arrived at a time when I was seeking reconciliation with her so I chose not to fight and sent her a check for $8K in addition to the normal family support.
We have been discussing reconciliation more seriously for the last 4 months. She has made it clear that she is not interested in finalizing the divorce at this time. I estimate our chances of reconciliation at 60%. Finally, my questions:
1. Can I buy the house without her knowledge without getting into specific legal trouble during divorce proceedings. In other words, would it be illegal? Would it be seen as being done in bad faith? (or is it similar to her purchasing her car with "her" portion of the funds?) It would be bought with only $27K of marrital assets of which she has nearly matching funds of $23K. I do understand that there is some risk that I might have to sell the house in order to pay her in an asset settlement. But could I be ordered to sell it or could it be taken from me if its value is not needed to settle assets?
2. Will the house automatically be community property
if she does not "sign off"? If I do inform her what will be involved in getting her to sign off?
3. What are the ramifications of giving my father $60K? He buys a house and later gives the house to me?
4. Is there any hope of getting back the $78xx associated with the tax return as part of an asset settlement or otherwise?
Please only answer this question if you are patient.