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Divorcing Spouse Faces Professional Consequences for Actions Taken During Divorce

A high-conflict divorce, involving both intense emotions and serious financial consequences, can make otherwise-sane people do things that they normally wouldn’t. Sometimes, these acts committed in a moment of insanity can have serious consequences. A local attorney has now had his license to practice law in Florida suspended based on an alleged forgery committed during his divorce. Read on to learn more about the case, and contact a seasoned Clearwater divorce attorney for professional assistance with your Florida divorce.

2010 divorce results in battle over family home

Madsen Marcellus Jr. and Kellie Petersen divorced in 2010. Like many divorcing couples, the home they shared became a subject of dispute between the spouses. Unfortunately, the home also became a subject of dispute before the Florida Supreme Court in a hearing over whether Marcellus should be permitted to retain his license to practice law. Back in 2010, the family court judge overseeing their divorce ordered that either Marcellus refinance the house in his name, or that he sell it so that Petersen’s name was no longer attached to the home and she could not be held responsible for the loan. The couple obtained the bank’s approval for a short sale after both spouses and their children moved out of the home. However, mere days before closing, Petersen testified that Marcellus moved back into the home and would not agree to sign closing paperwork.

“Notarized” forgery leads to professional consequences

Marcellus claimed that this was untrue. He explained to the court that he had attempted to obtain a modification of the home loan with the help of his friend, Curt Francis. This required getting Petersen’s signature on the modification paperwork. Marcellus testified before the Florida Supreme Court that Francis told Marcellus he’d “secured [Petersen’s] permission to execute the application on her behalf.” The court found, in contrast, that Francis never obtained Petersen’s consent to obtain a loan modification; that, in fact, Petersen’s signature had been forged, that Francis had notarized the forged signature, and that Marcellus knew the signature had been forged. Marcellus continued to live in the home with his new spouse for the following seven years without refinancing the loan to remove Petersen’s name, also in violation of the divorce court’s order. The Supreme Court put an end to this, ordering Marcellus out of the home and that the home be listed for sale. Both Marcellus and Francis were relieved of their professional licenses as a result of the scheme, and the Broward County home was ultimately sold in May of 2018.

If you’re in need of knowledgeable, professional, and effective legal counsel for your Florida divorce, contact the Clearwater offices of The Law Firm for Family Law at 727-531-8737.

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