Connect with us

Company

I received a financial gift from my mother. I returned it to her 5 years ago. Now that we’re divorcing, my husband says half of that money belonged to him

Published

on


Dear Moneyist,

I received a gift from my mother several years ago. She transferred a substantial amount of money into a bank account under my name only. My husband persuaded me to add his name to the account several months later. The money was not touched for several years. No transactions were made.

Several years after this gift was made, my husband raised the spectre of divorce. At that time, I returned the balance to my mother in Europe. Now that we are going through a divorce 5 years after the day I returned the money, my soon-to-be ex-husband says he has a right to half of that money from my mother. We live in California. Is he correct?

Soon to be Free

Also see: Trump goes golfing as stimulus, defense spending bills left in the lurch

Dear Soon,

Until a divorce court rules on this or you have your own attorney give his/her opinion, I’m not buying what your husband is trying to sell.

Under California law, gifts received during marriage from a third party made specifically to one spouse are NOT considered marital or community property. However, you deposited the money in a bank account under both your names so the money was technically co-mingled and, as such, transformed from separate to marital property. Given that this was money in a joint account, you had every right to send the money back to your mother.

The spectre of divorce raises questions, of course, and your husband could argue in divorce court that you were guilty of the dissipation (or squandering) of marital assets ahead of your split. A divorce court would not look kindly on such behavior and could take punitive action, and order you to restore the funds. But this would likely have to be done in a way that was intended to injure the other spouse. Given the provenance of this money, that does not seem to be the case here.

There are more egregious examples of wasting marital funds: “A cheating husband can pay for his girlfriend’s $5,000-a-month luxury apartment,” according to the law firm Claery & Hammond. “A vengeful wife can sell her husband’s $75,000 classic car for $1,000 on Craigslist. A husband can head to Las Vegas and blow $20,000 on gambling and strip clubs, or a wife can get a ‘Mommy Makeover’ days before filing for divorce. The possibilities are endless.”

The Moneyist:My boyfriend’s ex-wife claimed her 2 sons as dependents on her taxes, and received their stimulus checks, but they live with us

You have another factor in your favor: Your marriage survived an additional five years. There may have been happy times during that period, and some couples do throw the “D-word” when they’re going through a rocky patch. According to Ben Carrasco, a lawyer in Austin, Texas: “Spouses are discouraged from challenging transactions that took place well before the marriage’s breakdown in an effort to gain an advantage during the property division process.”

The burden of proving that a transfer of marital assets did not qualify as waste will likely fall on the party who transferred the property, Carrasco says. But he says the timing of any such transfer is also critical: “The courts will focus on the time in the couple’s marriage when it became clear that the marriage was in jeopardy and that any major transfers were being made in anticipation of separation and divorce,” he writes. So it’s not quite as clear cut as your husband suggests.

To cut a long story short — too late! — your husband appears to be using the same aggressive tactic that enabled him to add his name to your bank account.

The Moneyist: I earned $100,000 in 2019, but far less in 2020. Why did I not get a stimulus check? How is that fair?

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com

Want to read more?Follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitterand read more of his columns here

Would you like to sign up to an email alert when a new Moneyist column has been published? If so, click on this link.

Hello there, MarketWatchers. Check out the Moneyist private Facebook
FB,
+3.59%

 group where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.





Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Company

‘I could live on my Social Security and still save money’: This 66-year-old left Chicago for ‘calming’ Costa Rica — where he now plans to live indefinitely

Published

on

By


Editor’s note: This article was first published in September 2019.

A school break changed 66-year-old Martin Farber’s life forever.

In 2007, his daughter — who at the time was attending Illinois State University — decided she wanted to spend a college holiday volunteering in Costa Rica and staying with a local family, he explains. She came home raving about the experience, so, in 2008, Farber — who at the time was living in Evanston, Ill., just outside Chicago, and selling cars — took his first trip there.

“It was a big surprise to me — bumpy roads, dogs barking in the streets,” he says. “I wasn’t enamored at first.”

But as his daughter began traveling there more and eventually moved there for a year, he took additional trips to Costa Rica. It quickly grew on him — in particular, the people. “The Costa Rican people are warm, open and friendly. I felt less invisible in a strange country in a strange town where I didn’t speak the language than I did in Evanston.”

And the more time he spent there, the more it impacted him: “On one of my trips there, I thought: My daughter’s life makes more sense than mine,” he says. “There was nothing wrong with my life, but I felt that my life was out of context with who I’d become. … I would have bills and make money to pay them, but that had ceased to be satisfying,” he recalls. “I knew I needed to change my life — there was no more joy in what I was doing.”

What’s more, when he’d return from his Costa Rica trips, people noticed. “I would come back, and my friends and therapist would say: You seem better after you go,” he says with a laugh.

A view from the hot springs near Martin Farber’s home in Costa Rica.


Martin Farber

So in 2014, he packed up and moved to Orosi — a picturesque, lush small town with waterfalls and hot springs a little over an hour’s drive from San Jose — promising himself he’d stay for two years. It’s been five, and he now plans to stay in Costa Rica indefinitely. (Though Farber notes that, to him, “it’s not a retirement; it’s a chance to lead a new and different life.”)

Here’s what his life is like, from costs to health care to residency to everyday life:

The cost: While many expats spend way more living in Costa Rica, Farber says: “I could live on my Social Security and still save money.” He says “a person can live on $1,200 per month, two people on $2,000.” The key, he says, is to live more like he does and as the Costa Ricans do — in a modest home, eating local food and purchasing local goods.

Indeed, Farber himself spends just $300 a month for rent (he rents a home from a friend who moved recently and gave him a good deal), roughly $225 a month on groceries and just $50 a month total on water and electricity (the temperate climate in Orosi means you rarely need heat or air conditioning). The veteran Volkswagen
VOW,
+0.96%

 
VLKAF,
+0.98%

salesman saves money by not owning a car (those over 65 ride municipal buses for free), which can be a significant expense in Costa Rica; for his cellphone, “I pay as I go … roughly $10 may last me a couple weeks or more,” he says, adding that “many people handle there their cellphones this way. You can get them recharged anywhere.”

His major expense is travel: He goes back to the U.S. to visit his mother in Florida several times a year and lately has spent part of the summer in Chicago helping out a friend with a dealership there. He also spends a good amount of money on health care. He says that while flights can be had for as little as $350 roundtrip during offseasons, the cost can be much higher the rest of the year.

In the saddle.


Martin Farber

Health care: Farber, who has permanent resident status in Costa Rica, says he pays about $90 per month to participate in the country’s health-care system — adding that the health care he’s received has been very good. (A 2018 study of health-care quality and access in more than 190 nations ranked Costa Rica No. 62.)

When he developed a detached retina, though, he paid for the procedure out of pocket so that he didn’t have to wait for the required surgery, he says — adding that the entire procedure cost him about $5,000. “I would have had to have waited four days,” he says, if he had not paid to expedite matters. “That might have been fine, but it might not.” And he adds that the quality of care depends on where you get it in the country.

Lifestyle: Though Farber says that he “moved here with no goals and no agenda,” he’s found plenty to do. “I take Spanish lessons two days a week for two hours a day. It’s been great. I never thought I would acquire a usable language in my 60s,” he says. He also rides his bike all around the area, does some writing and belongs to a community group that undertakes projects to improve the area.

And he often simply takes in nature, which he says has been an essential part of why he feels calmer and more relaxed in Costa Rica than in the U.S. “I live at 3,000 feet but in a valley surrounded by coffee fields and lime trees and water. At night, if I open the windows, I can hear the river rushing by,” he says. “It is very calming … hundreds of trees everywhere … you know the Earth is alive.”

The historic Iglesia de San José de Orosi.


iStock

Cons: “I don’t want to overglorify. It’s not without its problems,” Farber says of Costa Rica. “There are social problems and downsides.” He notes that crime and petty theft can be a problem (“I am cautious,” he says of his approach) and seem to have increased since he moved there, and adds that he misses out on some cultural things because of where he lives. And, he says with a laugh, “I can’t order Thai food at 9 at night.” But, he adds: “These are trade-offs — in the afternoon, I get to walk in the coffee fields and see flocks of parrots.”

Residency: To qualify for Costa Rica’s pensionado visa, expats must prove that they have a pension of at least $1,000 coming in each month. (Here are the details of that program.) Once you have lived in Costa Rica for three years, you can apply for permanent residency. Farber used a lawyer to help him figure out the ins and outs of residency options; his entire path to permanent residency took about a year, he says.

The bottom line: “After five years I am still amazed and surprised that I made the decision to lead a life I never thought I would,” he says. And while he may not stay in Orosi forever — “the town doesn’t have an ambulance, [and] I don’t know what it will be like to be 80 there,” he says — he does plan to stay in Costa Rica in no small part because of the people and sense of community. “I have the feeling that life is good here,” he says. “It’s hard sometimes, but we are all in it together.”



Source link

Continue Reading

Company

Mutual Funds Weekly: These money and investing tips can help you read the market’s signs and stay on your path

Published

on

By



These money and investing stories were popular with MarketWatch readers over the past week.





Source link

Continue Reading

Company

Mutual Funds Weekly: These money and investing tips can help you read the market’s signs and stay on your path

Published

on

By



These money and investing stories were popular with MarketWatch readers over the past week.





Source link

Continue Reading

Trending