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Mayoral candidate blames financial problems on 'messy divorce'

Sometimes the financial and property distribution impacts of a divorce can linger long after the final papers have been signed. That's what Raquel Regalado is saying. Regalado, a school board member who is running for mayor of Miami-Dade County, has reportedly been notified by the county appraiser that a lien will be placed on the Miami home that she and her younger brother co-own if she doesn't pay nearly $4,000 in fines and property taxes she owes on the house she shared with her ex-husband.

Regalado is being accused of improperly claiming a homestead exemption on the property she took over ownership on after she and her husband divorced in 2008. Florida has some of the most lenient homestead laws in the country. These laws are designed to help keep people in their homes if their economic circumstances take a downward turn by allowing them to "homestead" part of the property so that creditors can't touch it.

The mayoral candidate reportedly stopped paying the mortgage on the home in 2011 and moved out of it in 2012. However, she continued to claim the homestead exemption of $50,000 on it.

The mayoral candidate has blamed the situation on a "messy divorce." She also told the Miami Herald that she couldn't afford the mortgage any longer because she had to pay for autism therapy for her daughter. She insists that she did nothing wrong, saying that she thought continuing to claim the homestead exemption was legal since she wasn't claiming one on the property she currently owns with her brother. She told the paper, "It was really about the divorce settlement."

Not surprisingly, her opponent in the race, current Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, is using this issue (not Regalado's first accusation of questionable financial activity), as further evidence that Regalado is not qualified for the job as mayor. Gimenez's campaign manager says that she has a "track record of poor financial management."

Whether Regalado is using the divorce as an excuse for the improper homestead exemption is ultimately one for voters to decide. However, this may be a good example of why it's important for spouses who sign over their share of a home to their ex are wise to make sure that their name is no longer on the title or mortgage. If it is, they can end up having legal and financial responsibility for activities they know nothing about.

Source: The Real Deal, "County says Raquel Regalado owes almost $4,000 in unpaid property taxes and fines," Aug. 07, 2016

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