Legal Question in Family Law in Pennsylvania

My husband and I are now seperated, during marriage he messed us up finanacially and I had to cash in a bond that was my sons from his biological father . At the time my husband promised that he would make sure my son got that money back. right before he left us his mother passed away and he recently received inheritence from her house that was sold . When I asked about him paying back my son, he now says he doesnt think he is legal responsible.since his name isnt listed on any of the paperwork. my son is now 20 and its been 5 years since the money was borrowed. I was going to bring this up during the divorce. but now that he has inherited this money. can my son or I sue him for it? It 25,000

Asked on 5/22/13, 7:33 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Matthew Nahrgang Nahrgang & Associates, P.C.

There are 3 issues involved: the Uniform Gift to Minors Act, potential breach of contract, and divorce law. Regarding the first issue, minors cannot own assets. Rather, all assets are held usually by parents as a fiduciary for their children until they turn 18. Use of those assets is limited to what is in the best interest of the child. Perhaps it can be argued that use of the funds was to benefit the household, and therefore your son. If that is the case, the funds were not solely for your husband's benefit and it is illogical that he would owe you repayment.

On the other hand, if the funds were not for you or your son's benefit, you potentially violated your fiduciary obligation by invading those funds. Moreover, to be liable for a debt, as opposed to it being a gift, the terms of the contract must be readily determined. So, unless it is clear how much was "borrowed", that it was to be repaid, whether there was interest being charged, and the time of repayment, you likely don't have an enforceable contract. Even if you did, you only have 4 years from the date of repayment to sue.

Finally, to the extent that this was payment of marital debt, you likely waived any rights to repayment by failing to raise them in the divorce and likely had no such rights as it was marital debt that was being paid.

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Answered on 5/23/13, 4:55 am

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