Parent may have cheated the other out of significant money. What to do?
April 16, 2014 7:52 AM Subscribe
I think one of my (divorced) parents may have withdrawn legally shared assets and the other parent may be unaware. What is my moral responsibility in this situation, or is it none of my business? Complexities inside.
posted by corb to Human Relations (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Going through papers, I ran across a copy of my parents' divorce decree from many years ago. Looking it over, I saw that a retirement pension was supposed to be split equally at time of disbursement, which would normally be a few years from now. However, I happen to know that the parent with the retirement pension - let's call them A - withdrew it early for their own purposes, and I suspect that the other parent - B - is unaware. I also know that they had to take significant penalties for early withdrawal, which is one of the main reasons I think that B may be unaware. B also has seemed to be seriously struggling financially over the last few years - the years since the early withdrawal - to the point where I wound up assisting financially, and I think B would not have been struggling so much if they had received a significant lump of cash.
1) I'm pretty sure that A has spent the cash on other assets, which would make it an ugly battle if B wanted to recover anything.
2) I don't have a great relationship with either of my parents, largely because of differences between their highly traditional upbringings and my current lifestyle. I haven't spoken to either of them in months, so would have to call specifically to inquire about this and could not drop inquiries casually in conversation.
3) I could be wrong - B could have received the money or some form of settlement and might just not have mentioned it, though I think this is unlikely. I have witnessed some of the financial difficulties B has had and they could not fake this.
4) Parent A has since remarried and thus any assets acquired would be joint with her and thus possibly unrecoverable?
5) I'm sure the divorce decree got mixed in with my stuff at one point and they probably both never wanted or intended for me to have it.
I am having a lot of internal struggling - I feel like the right thing to do is tell B immediately, but need some other opinions. So tell me: what is the morally right thing to do in this situation? Are there any ways to make this easier or do it better?