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FS-Become Your Own Financial PI & Transference With Psych Doc
Jan L. Warner & Jan Collins

Question: After 24 years of marriage, my husband and I are headed for divorce, mostly because I don't trust him. We have a home, some rental houses, a mountain property and some bank accounts. We have one grown son. My husband owns and operates his own plumbing business and maintains his office in one of our bedrooms. My major concern is that over the years, I have signed everything that he put in front of me, including financial papers about which I knew nothing. Most recently, I think I signed over our home to be used as collateral for his business. I don't want to arouse any suspicion yet, but how I can go about finding out about our assets, debts and so on?

Answer: Today, using the Internet and other sources of information, you can be your own financial detective. Since you have been signing the various documents, the first step would be for you to order your credit report from Equifax or TransUnion. In this way, you can get a clear picture of your debts and credit scores.

The second step is to engage a title abstractor --obviously, one who has no connections with your husband or his business -- to research the public records in your county of residence and retrieve evidence of ownership of all assets in you, your husband's and his business's name, along with all mortgages, financing statements, etc. The abstractor should check the assessor's office to get the county's most current valuation information for each asset, which, while not an appraisal, will give you a good idea about worth.

Ask the abstractor to check the records to get current information about your husband's company, which may include information about whether or not you are an owner.

Third, go through all papers at your home and look for your income tax returns and those of your husband's business, and also debt and credit card information, his calendar and customers' names, etc. If you can't find these, rather than going to the accountant who prepares your tax returns, and thereby raising an immediate red flag, contact your state department of revenue, which will send you copies of the tax returns they maintain on file.

Fourth, if you are a shareholder or owner in your husband's business, you should be able to secure copies of the business returns from your state department of revenue. You may be an owner without knowing it, since, if you own a majority of the stock, the business might qualify as a minority business.

Once you get your documents, take them to an independent certified public accountant and try to get an overall picture of the financial aspects of your marriage. In this way, you can make some informed decisions before seeing a lawyer.

Question: My wife and I began seeing a psychiatrist for counseling. I paid all of the bills. It seemed that he was taking her side. He prescribed anti-depressants for me, but not for her. When my wife went to a lawyer, I also hired one. When my wife suggested that I move out, I got suspicious and hired a detective who found my wife and the doctor sharing dinner and then a motel room.

When confronted, my wife said that she was going to marry him. In return for giving up all of the assets we acquired and waiving support, she wants me to release the doctor from liability. I want to sue the doctor. Do I have a case?

Answer: "Transference" is when a person displaces his/her romantic feelings onto someone else. Because transference is central to the treatment of marital and sexual problems and because the doctor should have known better, we believe you may have a case for medical malpractice and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Regardless of who was the aggressor or "whose fault it was," it was the doctor's duty to reject these overtures. However, if your state of residence has abolished criminal conversation and alienation of affections as causes of action, you should see a lawyer to decide if you have a viable claim against this doctor.

On the other hand, as with most marital issues, it all comes down to a matter of money. First, find out from your lawyer how much your wife could get if she pursued the claim for property division. Then find out from a plaintiff's lawyer if you have a case and, if so, the range of recovery, how long it will take to complete the case, how much costs you will be required to pay and, if you recover, whether the payout will be taxable to you. Although you're upset, and we understand that you are, you should weigh the benefits and detriments of bringing a suit, including the potential emotional toll.

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Suggested Reading:
Separation and Divorce Guidebook
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FS-Be Wary of Credit Issues with Ex
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FS-Becareful of Bargaining Away Alimony As Child Support
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FS-Lawyer Tells Me to Lie & Pension Double Dipped
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FS-On and Off Again Reconciles Can Create Agreement Disasters
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FS-The Dangers of Family Loans
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FS-Transference of Affection & 10 Tips of Divorce
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