Using incapacity claim as a weapon in divorce

In yet another way that guardianship can be used as a weapon, a Florida Clerk of Courts tried to have her husband guardianized as a way to grab his pension in a divorce proceeding.

The Judge, who has been named in many victim complaints, actually sent valid examiners to find the man fully capacitated and then denied the guardianship. It might be noted that the man in question was political insider and longtime associate of Judge in court where the man served as Clerk of the Courts who then got his wife, who is now divorcing him, elected to the same position! It’s not what you know but who you know. Politically connected folks–court insiders– need not to worry much about being guardianized by their buddy Judges. If only that were true for the rest of us!

Politician loses fight to get guardianship over her husband and his money

Broward Clerk of Court Brenda D. Forman has failed in her quest to convince a judge to declare her 71-year-old husband senile and name her as his guardian.

A committee of three independent examiners concluded that Howard C. Forman “is not incapacitated in any respect,” Judge Mark Speiser determined this month, dismissing the case.

The order notes that the panel of experts agreed unanimously. The word “unanimously” is emphasized in bold.

The decision is a victory for Howard Forman, a longtime Broward politician who served as Clerk of Court himself until he retired last year and helped get his now-estranged wife elected to his old job.

When they met, she was a clerical worker in his office with no political experience, earning $22,000 a year.

She now earns nearly eight times that and runs a taxpayer-funded office with 750 employees and a $37 million budget.

The regrettable court fight burst into public view in March, when Howard Forman filed for divorce. The couple had been married for four years. The next day Brenda Forman, 59, counter-punched.

She told the court her husband may suffer from early-onset dementia, filing a petition to be named his guardian with oversight over his well-being, property and bank accounts.

The divorce is still pending. Howard Forman’s legal team has argued that she was just trying to stall the divorce and gain control of his $12,000-a-month government pension, Social Security benefits and other assets. She did not immediately return a call for comment Tuesday.

Howard Forman told the Sun Sentinel he’s relieved by Judge Speiser’s ruling. “I always felt all along that I was competent. I’m glad my examination proved it.”

The legal battle quickly evolved into a political sideshow, with loyalists divided between the two camps.

In her campaign, Brenda Forman did not have the backing of the political establishment and capitalized on her husband’s name to win office.

“That Forman name helped carry me to where I need to be today. I honor my husband,” she told the crowd at her swearing-in ceremony last January, as Howard Forman stood silently next to her. “I love this man.”

Broward lobbyist Judith Stern, a longtime friend of Howard Forman’s, said Tuesday that she and others “knew all along he didn’t have dementia.”