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The Resource Center Child Identity Theft & Protection | article

After Divorce, Family Further Torn Apart by Identity Theft

When parents get divorced and a family splits apart, there are inherently a lot of financial and emotional issues that get thrown into the equation. From divvying up assets to making decisions regarding custody, most divorces rarely end in a clean break for either party.

It had seemed like a clean break at first
Eric Wagenhauser of Texas had successfully moved on after divorcing his first wife, Ivy Ash. The two shared custody of their three children, aged 15, 10 and 8, and Wagenhauser had happily remarried. Wagenhauser had seemed to have made a relatively easy, and happy, transition into a new life. However, the path away from his ex-wife took a sour turn in 2006, when it was revealed that Ash had used the pair's three children's identities to apply for nine credit cards.

The children were prematurely left with debt
Ash had successfully obtained two of the credit cards she had applied for and ran up more than $2,000 in debt on them, including numerous fees that would leave blemishes on her children's credit reports. Even though she had only opened two accounts, the failed applications had established poor credit scores for all three of Ash's children before they had ever even applied for accounts of their own.

"When my kids turn 18 and go to college, they're not going to be able to buy a car or get a student loan because they've got bad credit. No one's going to rent them an apartment. They're going to be turned down for jobs because there's so many companies that run credit histories," Wagenhauser told the New York Times in a 2006 story on identity theft.

Already a fractured family, the clan grows even further apart
The situation even put a strain on Wagenhauser's new life, as he and his second wife were almost pushed to the brink of divorce trying to resolve the situation for his three children, according to the source.

After Ash was found guilty of criminal identity theft and jailed, Wagenhauser got full custody of his three children. However, he told the Times that he is practically estranged from his 15-year-old daughter, who blames him for putting their mother behind bars. His youngest two children, however, still don't quite understand the financial hardships they will have to face in the future because of their mother's crimes.

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