A recent news report underscores the extraordinary measures some people will take to hide assets from their soon to be ex-spouse. After being married for 28 years, Sheila Brandner filed for divorce in Alaska in 2007. According to the indictment by the United States' Attorney's Office, her husband Michael Brandner, a 64-year-old plastic surgeon, reacted to the divorce filing by secretly planning a scheme to defraud his wife by hiding assets from her. In any divorce proceeding, a huge issue is the division of marital assets. The ultimate outcome can significantly impact each spouse's lifestyle and comfort. Seeking the help of a local San Diego family law attorney with a record of success cannot be overstated.
The husband in this case is accused of setting up fake companies, loans and accounts in California, Colorado and Central America, to prevent his wife and the court handling the couple's divorce from learning the extent of his wealth. The indictment alleges that Brandner sought to hide property and money for his "personal control and use," and he allegedly did so through two corporate entities he created. The government seized more than $4.6 million from a bank in California that was deemed to be part of the scheme. According to prosecutors, the money was seized as Michael Brandner was trying to hide it via a fraudulent investment that ultimately would have been written off as a loss, when in fact he would still have the funds.
Fortunately in this case, the authorities were able to identify and locate the marital funds that the husband was trying to conceal. Identification of marital property is a critical component to every divorce case. California is a community property state. This means that the law treats married couples as one "legal community." Therefore, any property acquired during marriage is deemed to be "community property." Likewise, any debts that the couple acquires during the marriage also belong to the "community debt." All items must be divided equally.