If space is the final frontier, it was only a matter of time for divorce to get there. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorities is investigating divorce fraud: whether an astronaut going through a divorce improperly accessed her wife’s bank account while orbiting Earth on the International Space Station.
Lost in Space
Summer Worden and Anne MccLain have been in the midst of a separation and custody dispute over Worden’s young son after filing for divorce in October 2018. Worden became suspicious when she says she discovered that McClain knew details about her spending.
Anne C. McClain was selected by NASA in 2013, has an accomplished military career, flew combat missions in Iraq and is one of NASA’s top astronauts. As with all NASA employees NASA does not comment on personal, or personnel issues.
But McClain’s attorney said when she accessed the account, she was making sure the couple’s finances were in order as she had been doing for years using passwords that weren’t changed.
There’s unequivocally no truth to these claims. We’ve been going through a painful, personal separation that’s now unfortunately in the media. I appreciate the outpouring of support and will reserve comment until after the investigation. I have total confidence in the IG process.
Florida Divorce Fraud
I’ve written about various aspects of divorce fraud involving property . . . on Earth. In Florida, courts distribute the marital assets, such as bank accounts, between parties under the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution.
Some of the factors to justify an unequal distribution of the property include things like the financial situation the parties, the length of the marriage, whether someone has interrupted their career or an educational opportunity, or how much one spouse contributed to the other’s career or education.
Another important factor is whether one of the parties intentionally dissipated, wasted, depleted, or destroyed any of the marital assets after the filing of the petition or within 2 years prior to the filing of the petition.
Dissipation of marital assets, such as taking money from a joint bank account, happens a lot. In those cases, the misconduct may serve as a basis for assigning the dissipated asset to the spending spouse when calculating equitable distribution.
When considering whether the dissipation of a bank account resulted from misconduct, the question for a judge is whether, for example, McClain used marital funds for her own benefit and for a purpose unrelated to the marriage when her marriage was undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown.
Misconduct, for purposes of dissipation, does not mean mismanagement or simple squandering of marital assets in a manner of which the other spouse disapproves. There has to be evidence of intentional dissipation or destruction.
Houston, we have a problem
Summer Worden and Anne MccLain married in December 2014, but after filing for divorce nearly four years later, Worden argues since McClain did not legally adopt the child and does not have custodial rights. McClain and Worden’s divorce trial is set for in Houston on September 17th.
McClain allegedly accessed the bank account as part of a ‘highly calculated and manipulated campaign’ to obtain custody of Worden’s son, who she had given birth to about a year before the couple got married.
Worden, a former Air Force intelligence officer, brought a complaint against McClain with the Federal Trade Commission, claiming that McClain had committed identity theft, even though none of Worden’s funds had been tampered with.
She told the New York Times that she discovered McClain’s actions after becoming curious about how McClain knew details about the way she’d been spending her money, even though they were separated and McClain was orbiting the earth.
Worden’s parents went a step further, filing a complaint against McClain with NASA’s Office of Inspector General, alleging identity theft and improper access to Worden’s private financial records.
Last week, McClain, who is back on Earth, sat down for an under-oath interview with the inspector general, during which she was said to have admitted that she did access Worden’s banking information.
However, McClain apparently claimed that she was just doing something she had always done while she and Worden were still a couple – checking in on Worden’s finances to make sure that there was enough money to support Worden’s child, who they had been raising together.
The New York Times article is here.