Witness protection program stalls divorce process

When a New York spouse has made the decision to end his or her marriage, one of the early steps within that divorce process involves serving the other party with the required paperwork. In most cases, this step is completed in a relatively simple and straightforward manner, and the divorce moves forward. However, when one party is unwilling or unable to be served, delays can occur.

witness-protection-programA prime example lies in the divorce between Scott and Kim Rothstein. The Rothsteins are now both inmates within the federal prison system. Scott Rothstein is serving a 50-year sentence for his involvement in a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of nearly $1.4 billion. His wife is serving just 18 months for attempting to hide jewelry and additional assets during the investigation and subsequent bankruptcy.

Mrs. Rothstein has decided to initiate divorce proceedings, and she has made efforts to serve her husband with divorce papers. This process has become complicated, however, due to the fact that Mr. Rothstein is being housed within the federal prison witness protection program. The program provides security for inmates who assist in the identification and prosecution of members of organized crime. Because of his inclusion within the program, Mrs. Rothstein has been unable to serve him. She has asked the court to grant an extension of the service deadline, and officials are looking into how Mr. Rothstein may be safely and properly served.

For most New York spouses, any service issues that may occur will be on a far smaller scale than the ones mentioned here. However, if one spouse takes actions to avoid service, difficulties may arise. In such cases, one’s divorce attorney can assist by providing referrals to process servers or private investigators who can track down the individual’s location and complete the service of legal paperwork as needed.

Source: The Sun Sentinel, “Where’s Rothstein? Divorce hits delay because fraudster is in secret prison“, Paula McMahon, June 2, 2014