The Moneyist: My fiancée wanted me to quitclaim our home. I ran a background check — and found her to be a fraud and liar.


Dear Moneyist,

My 11-year relationship with my fiancée has ended.

Together we built a mega house on a lake as our retirement home. Because of her poor credit, she could not finance a coffee pot. As a 44-year-old employee who is now retired, my credit allowed me to purchase whatever I desired.  

She inherited $1 million nine years into our relationship upon her mother’s passing. Because we were getting married (or so I thought) we made all the transactions in my name only. In two years, she has paid $437,000 on the mortgage. I too contributed.

I was asked to leave after the completion of the house, and tried to no avail to resolve our business differences. I asked for $7,600 for some things I wanted to be reimbursed for, and she refused. 

A few days after I left our home, I received a quitclaim letter from her attorney, asking me to sign. I refused, and hired an attorney as well to deal with our division of assets. These transactions all occurred in the state of Tennessee. 

Background check

I did a background check on my fiancée and found her to be an absolute fraud and liar. I have tried to be more than fair with this woman but because she was not the person she pretended to be all this time, I am more than angry.  

I discovered after moving out and conducting a forensic background check and audit that she had said she was married to a prominent businessperson, but she was not. I found that her actual husband was a “nobody,” probably much like me. 

I also found that the land sold thereby where she received her inheritance was less than 80 acres — not 1,500 acres.  She lied about her age and college education, had several past lawsuits, and was in arrears with the IRS for over $30,000.

She knows my friends

She has multiple friends on Facebook whom I’ve never heard of. The part that disturbs me as much as anything is that she knows people I have introduced her to through my friends at our lake house, including my oldest friend of 50 years.

Therefore, I am reluctant to sign off on the deeds. Our attorneys have written a few letters back and forth, but it appears a suit will have to be filed in order to settle the matter. Could you and your audience please give me your views? 

I am now seeking half of the appraised value of the property. This could have been resolved for $7,600 had she agreed. Now, because of her greed and selfishness, I think she needs to be taught a lesson and be brought down.

My attorneys are filing a petition to partition the property.

What is your take on this situation?

Former Fiancé

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at [email protected], and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

Dear Former,

First, a warning: A court will take into account each party’s contributions. You don’t say what you contributed, but if your former girlfriend had the income to make the lion’s share of the contributions, don’t rely on your high credit score to give you leverage for the court to split the property 50/50.

“Courts will consider what is fair to each party, and specifically for a partition action, courts will consider how much each co-owner has contributed in terms of a down payment, mortgage payments, taxes, rents received, and other resources or services rendered,” according to the Rabinovich Sokolov Law Group.

We spend a lifetime trying to understand our own motivations and personalities; how can we truly know what goes on inside the minds of others? Painting someone as a villain is unhelpful. People are notoriously unpredictable. We put our trust in them — and they in us — and sometimes everyone is disappointed.

Trolling her Facebook and poring over her photographs will only enrage you further. Perhaps you want to feel that anger, and those updates help you to channel it quickly and satisfyingly. But after a time, it becomes toxic — for you. Focusing on bringing other people down is a self-destructive and unhealthy way to live. Bring yourself up instead.

Last resort

It’s time to move to the next phase of grief: acceptance that you are better off without this woman, and hope that you can move on when you sell this property — and, assuming your name is on the deed, divide it 50/50. Your attorney will advise you on the partition action, a sobering and logical next step for you to take.

“Partition actions are a unique option of last resort in a dissolution matter,” the Artemis Family Law Group says. “When property is jointly owned by more than one person, and a point comes where the co-owners cannot decide on what to do with the property together, one of the owners may file a partition action with the court.”

“The court is empowered to order the sale the property at a public auction, but the parties can agree to a private sale,” the law firm adds. “However, a public auction can be a very risky option as there is no guarantee the house will sell for a certain amount. It will only sell to the highest bidder, whatever that amount may be.”

But Artemis notes that a public auction will limit your options. “It will only sell to the highest bidder, whatever that amount may be. And further, any liens or mortgages on the property will have to be satisfied from the proceeds of the sale before that money can be divided up between the co-owners.”

From what you say, it sounds like your former fiancée contributed more to the mortgage repayments. Whether or not that is the case, the partition action will solve the case, and the judge will rule on it. You will be forced to accept the result and the price you get for the lake house at auction.

Past, present and future

The bigger challenge will come later. You will need to stop trying to control the past (your fiancée’s lies or misrepresentations), the present (her friendships with your friends and former friends) and the future. Block her on Facebook
Her life will soon be none of your business. That will be the greatest reward of all.

You say your former fiancée had a terrible credit score, and spun grandiose stories from her own past. Did they impress or entice you? What lessons can you learn from this experience? I truly believe we continue to endure the pain from certain experiences or relationships because we have not learned the lessons from it.

Think on what red flags — there are always red flags — you could have overlooked, and ask yourself where and why you may have let your guard down. When you have looked at your part, then move on with your life once this is done and dusted. Otherwise, you will still be living with your former fiancée in that lake house.

By emailing your questions, you agree to having them published anonymously on MarketWatch. By submitting your story to Dow Jones & Company, the publisher of MarketWatch, you understand and agree that we may use your story, or versions of it, in all media and platforms, including via third parties.

Check out the Moneyist private Facebook 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.

The Moneyist regrets he cannot reply to questions individually.

More from Quentin Fottrell:

‘I just don’t trust my sister’: How do I gift money to my nieces without their mother having access to it?
We’re getting married and have a baby on the way. My wife has offered to pay off my $10,000 student debt and $7,500 car loan
I have three children. I quitclaimed my house to my most responsible son. Now he has blocked my calls
My brother-in-law died, leaving his house in a mess. His landlord wants me to repaint and replace the carpet. What should we do?

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