We have all seen and heard those familiar words in the title of this entry in moves or on TV. This is part of the "Miranda" warning administered by a police officer when they are arresting someone. Do these words also have a place in divorce court? Not in the same way, but in reality they do.
Other than settlement communications, attorney/client and other privileged communications, everything else is just about fair game. That is why Facebook, emails and texts have become such a treasure trove in divorce cases as people freely put things in writing that they might not otherwise say, and perhaps even broadcast it to the world.
But what about what you say in another court in another case? Can that be used against you? Sure can. The concept is called judicial estoppel, and it was on display again yesterday in the unreported (non-precedential) decision from the Appellate Division in Romano v. Romano.
Without getting in to all of the details of this case, the relevant details relating to judicial estoppel are as follows, On the wife’s name was on the deed of the marital home, a finding made by a judge during a domestic violence trial, despite the husband claiming he was on the deed. Thereafter, the husband filed for bankruptcy relief. In that filing, he answered "none" on the part of petition asking if he had a legal or equitable interest in any real property. In the later divorce case, he listed the aforementioned home as a marital home subject to equitable distribution.
The trial judge awarded the home to the wife based on the husband’s representation to the bankruptcy court that he had no interest in the property.