Divorce Judges Have Jurisdiction to Address Fraud Against Party's Employer
Family law attorneys, how many times have we had clients swear that their spouse and/or the spouses’ employer were covering up income or benefits? A recent ruling from the 4th District Court of Appeal suggests that divorce judges have jurisdiction to address other claims that arise during divorce proceedings. These can include:
• Deceptive and unfair trade practice claims
• Negligence claims against a spouse's employer, its managers and the company CPA individually or all for their alleged assistance in helping an employee/spouse hide income to lower child support.
In the case of Chanin v. Feigenheimer, a Palm Beach County Judge dismissed a post-dissolution Petition for Modification that also sought to raise various other counts against both the husband and his employer. Although not ruling on the merits of the claim, the 4th District Court of Appeal has reversed a dismissal. It is requiring the trial judge to consider transferring the causes of action to a separate division or to proceed as a circuit civil case, where family judges are most comfortable. After all, a family law judge does fall under the circuit civil category.
The interesting part of this opinion is that it appears to support a contention that employers and bosses could be sued for helping employees cover up income. Only time will tell if the allegations are successful.