Tag: Assisted Reproductive Technology Fraud

New Divorce Fraud Case

A Texas man is wanted by authorities for divorcing his wife — apparently without her knowledge or consent. This new divorce fraud case is another example of how careful you need to be in this stressful area of law.

New Divorce Fraud

Divorce Fraud in the Lone Star State

Paul Nixon, 51, allegedly broke off his marriage from his wife using forged documents behind her back, authorities claimed. Nixon’s wife told investigators on May 14 that her husband:

“filed for divorce and completed the entire proceedings without her knowledge or consent and that the court had already completed all hearings and filed the final divorce decree.”

Nixon, of Harris County, submitted “several forged documents and false information” to a district court, “including a forged waiver of service” and a forged signature from a notary public in an effort to divorce his wife,” according to a press release posted on the constable’s Facebook page.

Mark Herman of Harris County Constable Precinct 4 said on Facebook that Paul Nixon committed aggravated perjury when he went through the divorce process without his wife’s consent.

According to Herman, authorities received a call on May 14 from a woman who said her husband had allegedly completed the divorce and that a court already filed the final decree.

Through the investigation, authorities found that Nixon forged documents and submitted false information to the court. He also allegedly submitted a waiver of service with a forged signature from a notary.

Florida Divorce Fraud

I’ve written about various aspects of divorce fraud involving property. 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.

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.

Texas Hold ‘Em

Back in Texas, Mr. Nixon, is wanted by police for aggravated perjury after he allegedly submitted forged documents, divorcing his wife without her knowledge, officials said.

Nixon’s wife “was very surprised,” Constable Mark Herman told the New York Post. “In this particular case, the gentleman decided to go through a divorce but the only problem is, he left his wife out of the process. And that’s a violation of the law here in Texas.”

The constable said Nixon’s wife “started finding things showing that he was spending money on jewelry, so she confronted him and he told her that they were actually divorced.”

Nixon and his wife were only married for a “couple of years” before he moved forward with their divorce, without her. Nixon now faces up to 10 years in prison if he is found and convicted. As far as his marriage goes, no new divorce proceedings have been filed.

The Fox News article is here.



Assisted Reproductive Technology Fraud

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Assisted Reproductive Technology on Friday, January 17, 2014.

There has been a big increase in divorce (ART). ART involves removing eggs from ovaries, combining them with sperm in a lab, and returning them to the woman or donating them to another. ART now accounts for 3 of every 100 children born in the U.S. ART offers opportunities for parenthood, but is also a ripe area for fraud.

The majority of ART usage involves couples undergoing in vitro fertilization – this is called 1st Party assisted reproduction. A growing number of procedures though use third-party collaborators who act as sperm donors, egg donors, and gestational carriers.

Most 3rd Party ART procedures are done without complication or incident. However, a recent article from the American Medical Association confirms what we already know, that we must be aware of and plan for potential misconduct.

Donor Misconduct

Donors may go through extensive screening, but, they may not be truthful when filling out their profile. Two large areas to be aware of are:

(1) Donor’s intention to claim parental rights over resulting child.

Parents intending to solicit donors shouldn’t presume donors will waive their parental rights. There have been a few cases where donors change their minds. Florida is a leading state in the enforceability of gestational surrogacy agreements.

(2) Donor health histories.

What happens when a donor reveals to a doctor a previously undisclosed health problem, such as a family history of cancer, depression, or prior meth addiction? Lies in a profile about health-related matters threaten the well-being of a potential child.

Surrogate Parenting Misconduct

Surrogate parenting allows a married infertile couple to contract with a woman to gestate a child, and then relinquish it after birth. We memorialize this in detailed gestational surrogacy agreements. Two big areas of concern include:

(1) The intended parents hide the fact that they are getting divorced when the agreement calls for the child being born into an intact marriage.

(2) A surrogate fails to comply with the contractual ban on coffee, chocolate, or alcohol use on a regular basis.

Infertile parents have an unprecedented opportunity to enjoy the rewards of parenting. Florida has set itself apart as a haven for ART, as our laws make the process less prone to legal problems. Some states and countries ban these practices altogether.

Florida is very advanced in this area of law, and is one of the few states that permits intended parents to establish the parental status to a child born through assisted reproduction without a paternity/adoption process.

However, Florida statutes make detailed provisions that must be followed for a contract for it to be enforceable. If you’re thinking of slapping together a “do it yourselfer” contract, think again, you could face legal risks