My ex is signing on my son's checking account

My Ex Husband who is in Bankruptcey opened a checking account with my
teen age son’s name and is using the checking account as his own,
making cash deposits and signing my son’s name.
My son doesn’t realize what is going on.
Is this legal? Is my Ex hiding assets in my son’s checking account?

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How old is your son and who is his legal guardian?

You should contact an attorney - try checking with a local law school or church to see if they can put you in touch with any pro bono assistance.

Is your son 18? Is it his son too? If it’s his son and he’s under 18, that may muddy the waters a little, but I’d start by heading down to the bank and letting them know that your son has no idea that this is going on and didn’t sign anything to open the account in his name. You should probably bring your son down with you, with his ID (if he has one).
My guess, is they’ll have him (and/or you) sign some sort of affidavit that says that the account was fraudulently opened and they’ll lock it down and take care of the rest on their own.
Depending you your relationship with the ex, you may or may not want to file a police report as well.

Either way, I’d be at the bank (literally) the minute the open tomorrow morning to get it straightened out. This will have implications for your son sooner or later. For example, if he bounces checks, the bank will come after your son and as far as the bank (and the people that the checks were written too) are concerned, your son is liable to make them good. At least until you convince them otherwise. You might as well start convincing them now, before he bounces checks.

Also, he’s probably not hiding assets (unless there’s, say, more then 10K or so in there). It’s probably that the bank won’t let him open a checking account in his own name (he probably owes them money). So, one way or another, he opened the checking account in your sons name. The problem with this is, that he’s going to ruin your son’s name with the bank as well, and possible his credit as well.
Come to think of it, if your son is old enough, you might want to A)check his credit report and B)put a lock on it so that ex can’t open any credit cards with your sons SSN.
You might want to check your credit report as well.

IANAL and all that. But even if a parent has a legal right to make financial transactions for their minor child, I don’t think they can do it as their minor child. So I don’t see how the father can be legally signing the son’s name to checks.

When you mention “hiding assets,” that implies a considerable sum of money. What’s to prevent your son from withdrawing it? :wink:

No one said it’s happening legally, just that it’s happening. Once the account is opened (legally or otherwise), he can write checks all he wants. He just has to make sure he goes to places that don’t ask for an ID (unless he has the same name) or just uses the checking account for online activities like paying credit card bills or ACH transactions. Also, he can write checks for bills that he’s dropping in the mail (utilities, rent etc).

I suspect that the bankruptcy trustee and possibly the U.S. Attorney in that jurisdiction may disagree. A concerned citizen with reason to suspect bankruptcy fraud might wish to contact the bankruptcy trustee and/or the U.S. Attorney to discuss the situation.

I’m not saying that he’s not hiding assets, I’m just suggesting that it’s possible he’s not, it’s just that he needs/wants a bank account and the bank told him he couldn’t have one (for any one of a number of reasons), so he said “It’s not for me, it’s for my son, Frank Jr Jr”. This is where the son’s age is probably going to play an important role. If the son is 14 years old, the dad (assuming it’s his dad) may have been able to legally open a custodial account without the son’s consent and maybe a single forged signature. If he’s closer to 18, the dad may have had to find a notary public that was willing to notarize the forged signature for him. The bank or you might want to go after the notary if that happened.

Either way, the hiding of assets is moot as it pertains to the question at hand. Mom needs to be at the bank in the morning to find out what it’s going to take to get this cleared up. As I said earlier, I would (if possible) bring the son with me, and any ID I could dig up (DL, SSN, Passport, School ID…anything). I’m also going to reiterate getting a credit report on the son to find out if he’s opened any credit cards or utilities in the sons name.

Also, someone upthread mentioned withdrawing the money and while the son could probably do that, if I were mom, after getting the account shut down, I would just let the bank keep the money or do whatever they want with it. I wouldn’t want any part of it since I wouldn’t want Ex coming to me asking for it or a creditor saying ‘well, you withdrew it, so you owe it to us’. I’d like to be able to say 'No, the account was illegally opened in my son’s name, I told them what happened and they closed it and kept the money, you’d have to contact them, I don’t know what they did with it after that, it really isn’t my problem".

It sounds like Identity Theft to me. He can ruin your son’s credit rating.

I don’t necessarily disagree with any of the advice you’ve offered, Joey P. However, the fact that this father is currently in bankruptcy and is apparently using/operating a bank account in another person’s name leads me to believe that the trustee and possibly the U.S. Attorney may be interested in looking a little closer. Particularly if, as appears likely, the existence of this account was not disclosed in the bankruptcy filings. It’s one head of a possible hydra, so to speak.

Assuming (per the OP) that the money being deposited and withdrawn is the ex’s cash to begin with it’s likely he’s simply doing it to stay under the radar of creditors and prevent the cash he’s putting there from getting attached so he can pay everyday expenses. While this is not kosher it’s done all the time by people in bankruptcy to stay afloat personally.

If he has a history of bouncing checks or behaving irresponsibly then you should go on red alert. If he’s usually responsible and good pay and this is simply a cash hiding tactic he’s using it might be best to simply have a discussion with him and tell him to unwind it immediately before getting the authorities involved.

I understand there is little love lost between your ex and yourself, but from a practical basis you are joined at the hip re your kid(s) and the financial resources you have to devote to them. The resources in bankruptcy are under huge stress. If you turn your husband in vs working it out personally whatever monies are being paid to CS (if any) and other shared lifestyle expenses for the kids may dry up. If you are OK with this risk proceed, but I have seen scenarios like this play out before, and after the fact the ex-wife sometimes wonders why there is no more CS or cash or for kid’s lifestyle expenses.

Immediately involving the authorities may be emotionally satisfying but financially risky if you depend on any cash flows from him.

Legal advice is best suited to IMHO.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator

Withdraw the money. It is obviously child support meant for your son.

Well, that’s one way of looking at it.

My sister ruined her kids’ credits by opening store charge accounts in their names and not paying the bills (after she’d ruined her own and no one would extend credit to her, of course). It’s very hard to be 18-20 and find you can’t get credit because someone else ruined yours. I would be very wary of allowing your ex to get away with this.

StG

It is not “done all the time” in bankruptcy. That is a criminal act, and anyone who does it is insane. Call the Chapter 7/13 Trustee in his case, and report it. He should lose his Discharge if he’s committing fraud by hiding assets, and is subject to criminal prosecution by the USDOJ.

I would suggest this right away.

In terms of getting your Ex into huge legal problems, I’d weigh that against the impact of legal trouble on your son and family. You may find a better path is to give your Ex the chance to close the account, and work out a legal way to handle his finances. Not that I would have a problem with him reaping what he has sown, but if it harms your son, is that the best choice for you to make?