Divorce can be a stressful experience and in some cases can make people do irrational things. Recently a Colorado man claimed in his divorce case that he threw half a million dollars worth of gold into a motel dumpster rather than let his estranged wife have any share of it. If his story is true, it has to rank high on the list of stupid things divorcing spouses have done.
The 52-year-old Teller County man and his wife were married for 25 years. He claims that he took the couple’s investment and retirement accounts and converted them to gold bars and gold coins through an Arizona precious metals dealer. He claims that he then threw the gold in a dumpster behind the weekly rate motel he was living in after moving out of the couple’s home in Divide. He alleges he actually threw away gold on several occasions, making additional trips to the dumpster as more coins and bars arrived in the mail. Conveniently, he says there were no witnesses to the gold dumping, and he did nothing to create a record that he disposed of the gold.
If this man thinks he’s pulled one over on the court or his wife he is going to be disappointed. It is unlikely any judge is going to buy his story. And whether or not the gold is ever found, the man will find that he has not helped his case by pulling this stunt.
In Colorado, marital property is subject to equitable distribution between the parties. Equitable doesn’t necessarily mean equal; it means the judge will divide the property according to what’s fair under the circumstances. And in making an equitable decision the judge can consider the parties’ good faith-or lack of it-before the court. The man’s claim that he threw away a significant portion of the couples’ assets could result in an award to the wife of whatever assets are left, plus an order that the husband pay his wife an amount equal to her equitable share of the gold he claims to have tossed. If he continues to claim he no longer has the gold, he may find his wages and bank accounts garnished for years to come, until his wife has been made whole.
Source: Colorado Springs Gazette, “Teller County man claims he dumped gold in landfill during divorce dispute,” Oct. 24, 2013