Ask a Bougie Chick: Mixing Business with the Boo

{Disclaimer - I'm not a counselor, life coach, relationship specialist or doctor of any sort. I've just been there, done that and written the book(s). My opinions are my own and not reflective of anything other than the corners of my mind.}

It's Ask a Bougie Chick Week! Woo-hoo!

First let me say that if I haven't responded to your email by reply or here on the blog, I apologize. My gmailbox downloads to two different computers (plus the BlackBerry) and I didn't realize that deleted on one, deleted on all - thought I had it set up separately. So, long story short - my bad. Technical difficulties may have prevented me from answering you. Write again, I'll do better.

Today's letter comes from a woman in her early thirties living in Arkansas. She calls herself BZLady. I've made edits for length and grammar. Let's take a look...
Hey Chele, 
Just wanted to say I love the books and your blog first. But I do have an issue to get your opinion on. I met a guy three years ago. Very nice, ambitious and respectful. We got along very well and quickly went from the friend zone to being together. After around 18 months, he proposed and I accepted. We moved in together and started consolidating bank accounts, etc. 
He was working as a mechanic at a national chain and got the opportunity to take over a franchise in a suburb about 30 minutes from where we were near Little Rock. To close the deal, he needed about $24,000. He had eight of that. One day he came home and asked me if I would pull the rest of the money out of my 401(k) and savings account.  
I work at a hospital as an administrator and have been here for close to ten years. I've been very aggressive with savings and putting away for retirement. So when he asked me for the $16,000 I have to admit that at first I was mad that he'd paid that much attention to my finances and knew I had it. Then I felt nervous. My 401(k) would be completely wiped out and my savings would take a serious hit.  
But he said we were building a life together and I already knew how profitable the franchise would be. Plus he said that in a few months, it would all be our money anyway. So I agreed with the stipulation that he put the money back as soon as the business started showing a profit. He agreed and we even shook hands on it laughing about sealing the deal.  
Fast forward to six months ago. We broke off the engagement for a number of reasons and he moved out. Also, his business is doing very, very well. Up until recently, I had access to the books and there is money coming in. I found out that he only needed about half of the $16,000 I gave him and the rest he used to put down on a house that he's living in with another woman. 
I want my money back. He said because we never had a binding contract, he considered it a gift and isn't required to pay me. Last time I tried to contact him about it, he got nasty and told me to quit stalking him. I feel fourteen kinds of stupid and wonder if he wasn't playing me all along. I guess that part doesn't matter but can you tell me if there's any way to get the money back? Isn't this a contract and isn't a handshake an agreement? Was I just being stupid?
BZ, I'm sorry this happened to you. It really, really sucks. I'm not an attorney (and you need one) but here's what I do know. Technically, you had all the contractual elements: offer, acceptance, mutual agreement, legal purpose, consideration, and sound mind of both parties (at least I assume so!). But because this agreement involved a debt one party owes the other to secure the sale or purchase of a business, you really should have put in writing to insure it's enforceability. The handshake does imply consent but if no one witnessed it.... you need an attorney.

Quickly. Like stop reading this and call one. Him telling you that you are stalking him is his way of flipping the script and setting up his defense when you build some sort of fraud/theft case against him. 

In the meantime, make sure you can prove the money came from your accounts and went to his. Technically until he pays you back, you own a part of that business. Do you by any chance still have access to his accounts? Is your name still on anything? I suggest you relieve his accounts of your funds. Hell if I'd be posted up with zero savings while he's shacked up high rolling which some chick on my dime?! No. Ma'am.

Make sure he doesn't have access to anything else of yours and get a fraud alert service on your social security number - he might have used your credit to secure credit of his own. Long story short: Fight back. 

BougieLand, any advice for BZ? Ladies and gents, would you "loan" your S.O. thousands of dollars on a handshake and a smile? What do we think about the concept of "our money" after marriage? Do you co-mingle everything? Would you go into business with your potential spouse? And what would you do to get your money back? Inquiring minds want to know.