Gavel and handcuffs law order

People find themselves on the wrong side of the law for various reasons. They get in trouble with work, with business, with taxes, with government officials. So sometimes, divorce becomes necessary in order to disentangle and protect the family’s assets. Other times, it’s a matter of conscience.

I had a case where the husband had been put in jail because he had been stealing money from a fund that he was responsible for. Over the course of many years, he began taking money to subsidize his lifestyle with his wife. His wife made a good living, and he wanted to present that he was contributing towards the marriage as well. In truth, the wife didn’t know that much about the husband’s job, and she didn’t ask. He was a consultant, and they filed their taxes separately. 

The fund that the husband was responsible for eventually discovered his embezzlement. He ended up doing a stint in jail, and the wife stayed with him throughout this ordeal. The wife was not prosecuted or implicated in any way. This marriage did eventually disintegrate into divorce – the seed being planted with the husband’s criminal activity — but it took many years. 

In another instance where the husband was found guilty of embezzlement, the couple owned many joint assets together. They wanted to get a divorce in order to protect the wife’s share of the assets and transfer all the assets into her exclusive name, thereby protecting them. 

Sometimes, people trigger an investigation into their (ex-)spouse. For example, a wife may know that her husband used fuzzy math on his tax returns. They may stay married, and benefit from the questionable returns while they’re married. It’s only after the divorce — or during a very, very contentious divorce — that they will call the IRS. That is not only personally distasteful to me, it is also illogical to facilitate the imprisoning of your ex-spouse because then they cannot work and make support payments. Further, the children are deprived of a parent and have to deal with the emotional turmoil and stigma of an imprisoned parent.   

Finally, there are extreme scenarios of finding out your spouse committed a crime and got away with it. For example, finding out your spouse has affiliations with a supremacist or hate group, a terrorist organization, has stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars and gone undiscovered, and in the most extreme scenario, has committed rape or murder in their past and never got caught. These are not just scenarios that play out in mystery novels; while not run of the mill, these events happen and need to be handled delicately. 

There are ways to build up some armor and distinguish yourself from your law-breaking spouse. Post-nuptial agreements can address all kinds of different issues. If the marriage is in a more advanced stage of deterioration, you can pursue a separation agreement or divorce. Contact me at to learn more.

Cheryl Stein, Esq.
The Law and Mediation Offices of Cheryl Stein
745 Fifth Avenue, Suite 500
New York, NY 10151
Phone: (646) 884-2324