Danielle’s Story

In the late 1960’s Danielle married Jonathan. They bought a home in 1973 and lived in Philadelphia with their son. Eventually they were divorced. For some unknown reason, they never reached an agreement regarding disposition of the house.

Danielle moved out after the divorce. Her former husband Jonathan continued to stay in their former marital abode. Because they were divorced, their ownership in the property went from “tenants by the entireties” to “tenants in common.” This meant that from the time of divorce each person owned one-half of the property.

In 2016, Danielle learned for the first time that in 1999 Jonathan had signed her name on a deed that transferred her 50% interest in the property to just himself! He did this without consulting her or getting her permission. The deed was recorded in the Department of Records, making it official. From that time on, anyone looking at the deed records would see that she no longer owned any part of the property at all.

The property was valuable and, of course, Jonathan was aware of that. A few years later, owning a 100% interest in the property, he applied for and obtained a mortgage loan.

Danielle retained attorney Mike Bomstein to look into the matter and he quickly found the fraudulent deed. The apparent signature of his ex-wife was quite different from her ordinary signature. Her driver’s license, credit cards and bank checks all showed clearly that she was not the person who signed her name on the 1999 deed.

Bomstein filed a Complaint in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court to quiet the title to the property. If Danielle were successful, the deed would be set aside on the basis of the forged signature.

Jonathan hired an attorney to represent his interests. His answer to the Complaint actually denied the signature was a forgery. Later, however, he had a change of heart and, through his lawyer, began to negotiate a settlement.

Danielle was no longer interested in owning the property; she only wanted to be paid for her fair share, 50% of the property’s value. Jonathan insisted he had maintained the property and even made improvements to it and he wanted credit for that. Bomstein noted that the property could have been rented out for decades and she had been denied those rents. Eventually, the parties compromised and settled on a sum that was satisfactory to both sides.

Complicating the matter was that Jonathan by that time did not have the ability simply to write a check and pay his ex-wife for her share. Fortunately, there was enough value in the property and, with Danielle’s cooperation, Jonathan was able to get a new mortgage loan to buy her out. After thirteen months, the lawsuit ended and the parties finally could close that chapter of their relationship.

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