Divorce Fraud

There are many ways for spouses to commit divorce fraud, especially during the proceeding. A Texas man was just found guilty of forging his wife’s signature on divorce papers — while giving himself a small break on support, and adding a couple weeks to summer visitation. What can be done about divorce fraud?

The Texas Divorce Fraud Case

According to reports, her husband, Brian Kimmell, had been staying at her residence when in October he went to court, without her, to file the divorce papers.

Although the 10-year marriage had ended in separation, they maintained a civil relationship for their son and she believed he had traveled up from San Diego – where the Navy had stationed him – in order to attend their son’s football game.

About eight months before Brian Kimmell allegedly forged his documents — social media posts showed that he had gotten married to another woman even though he was still married to her.

The unsigned divorce papers had Brian paying $1,000 a month in child support. In the forged copy the amount was reduced to about $700.They had agreed to him taking their son for a month each summer, but in the forged documents he had their son for a couple weeks more.

When Cassie Kimmell heard that the case had stalled, she said she called a Navy official and Naval Criminal Investigative Services agents met with Port Orchard police investigators and turned over handwriting samples from Brian Kimmell.

The samples were sent to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab and were analyzed by a handwriting expert who wrote in reports that it was “highly probable” that the signature on the divorce document was not made by Cassie Kimmel, and that Brian Kimmell “probably” signed it instead.

Divorce and Fraud

In Florida divorce papers, such as judgments and marital settlement agreements can be set aside on various grounds, including fraud. Divorce fraud has become very common, and I’ve written on the subject before.

In certain cases, Florida allows you to challenge and vacate or modify a marital settlement agreement if the agreement was based on things like fraud, deceit, duress, coercion, misrepresentation, overreaching.

Additionally, Florida courts have allowed challenges to agreements where the marital settlement agreement makes unfair or unreasonable provision for the challenging party given the circumstances of the case.

Judgments are another area of fraud, especially in light of the Texas divorce fraud case. The thinking is that cheaters should not be allowed to prosper, and it has long been central to our legal system.

Florida rules of court expressly allow you to get some relief from a judgment if it was the product of fraud (whether intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party.

Extrinsic fraud is conduct which prevents you from presenting your case. This is usually done by keeping you away from court; falsely promising a compromise; ignorance by an adversary about the existence of the suit or the acts of the plaintiff; fraudulent representation of a party without his consent and connivance in his defeat; and so on.

Intrinsic fraud, on the other hand, is fraudulent conduct within a case and pertains to the issues in the case. For example, false testimony in a proceeding is intrinsic fraud.

Courts have available to them all kinds of sanctions, in a wide variety of shapes, attempting to encompass the virtually limitless ways people in divorce manage to misbehave.

Back in Texas

After the divorce was reversed, and then completed again with Cassie Kimmell’s actual signature, Brian Kimmell received no visitation with their son and has to pay $1,300 a month.

He also was tagged with about $32,000 of additional payments to Cassie Kimmell, which comes on top of paying legal fees for the second divorce and the criminal case.

Reached through an attorney, Brian Kimmell wrote in an email to the Kitsap Sun that his career had ended and he lost his rights to see and speak to his son despite having to continue to pay child support.

All this and I still don’t even know what for. I never used to think something like this could really happen to a person. Needless to say, my eyes have been opened.

On March 1, Brian Kimmell pleaded guilty to the first-degree perjury charge and was sentenced to six months of home detention, which he was authorized to serve at his residence in Texas.

The King5 article is here.