In the aftermath of last week’s arrest of Anastasya Varvaryuk on charges she passed off fake divorce documents to unknowing couples from her storefront in Clifton, victims of the alleged divorce scam may be recovered enough from the shock of discovering they are still married to now be wondering: what’s next?
As we have written about previously, consequences for the couples Varvaryuk is charged with tricking could be serious, especially if their “divorce” involved children or if they have since remarried.
If you or someone you know obtained divorce documents or other related divorce services from Ms. Varvaryuk or her business, taking swift — and smart — action is of the essence. Here are five steps to help you start moving forward:
1. Identify Yourself: If you know you are a victim in this matter, contact the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office and identify yourself as a former client of the charged individual. Be prepared to provide the divorce documents you received and possibly any receipts or other evidence (emails, etc.) showing that divorce settlements were represented as legal and valid. Coming forward could help the Prosecutor’s Office in their work to identify victims and provide evidence in their case, and could also help you obtain any services or support that may become available to affected couples.
If events you recall from your divorce lead you to believe that perhaps your spouse was in contact with Ms. Varvaryuk, look back through old bank or credit card statements that may reveal a transaction with the business. If you still aren’t sure, you can check with Courts to make sure your divorce is on record.
2. Gather Records: Find and gather all marital financial records [see our Financial Paperwork Checklist pdf for what you are looking for]; all records and documents related to the divorce itself, including any child custody or child support and alimony orders; and also your recent solo financial records.
3. Consult with an Attorney: Schedule a consultation with an experienced family law attorney to create a concrete plan based on the specifics of your case. Ms. Varvaryuk was charged with practicing law without a license, though it is still unclear what kind of advice she may have dispensed. It could be that your “settlement” contains significant errors and mistakes, or there were hidden assets. You may be due much more money than the fake settlement contained or you may need to prepare that your spouse could come back to you looking for a greater share of the financial settlement when you seek a valid divorce. Your child custody or child support orders may also be in question. A family law attorney will be able to examine the fraudulent documents and work with you to create the best way forward.
4. File Divorce Papers: Your attorney can also help you file a Complaint for Divorce and understand the information needed to correctly complete a Case Information Statement (please see our Divorce Road Map for an explanation of the process). Your attorney can also help you understand all the options available to you in divorce, including divorce mediation, which can be a way to reach a valid divorce settlement in a less time-consuming and lower cost way compared to going to court. If you and your have minimal issues to settle in your divorce, you may wish to pursue an uncontested divorce.
5. If You Have Already Remarried: Should you have already married again in the time since receiving divorce documents from Ms. Varvaryuk, be aware that entering into a marriage with someone while still being legally wed to someone else, is considered bigamy in New Jersey and other states. Your second marriage may now be invalid, so be prepared for possible asset disputes or child custody issues as you attempt to right these legal wrongs. Identifying yourself as quickly as possible as a victim, and then working with an attorney and the courts, can be the best way to avoid any accusations of wrongdoing on your part.
Are you a victim in this matter and need immediate legal assistance? Our family attorneys are here to help. Please contact us today to schedule your initial attorney consultation.