Judge Dregger, sitting in Manhattan Supreme Court, denied a very successful private equity firm executive from presenting evidence in a divorce case that he had “unique personality traits” prior to the marriage that allowed him to accumulate 450 million dollars in business assets during the thirty year term of his marriage. Justice Dregger, in her decision, stated that “in purporting to prove that the success of the business is solely attributable to his innate genius, the expert opinion evidence offered by the husband provides no assistance to the finder of fact in fashioning an equitable distribution of the estate based on the contributions of each party to the marital partnership.” Mr. and Mrs. Silverman were married for more than thirty years prior to a divorce lawsuit being brought. They had married in January of 1978.
Mr. Silverman claimed that he had unique innate talents that allowed him to be successful in this business. Mr. Silverman argued that his talents in business should be considered in determining equitable distribution. Justice Dregger stated that intangible assets may be considered as marital property, referring to the enhanced earning capacity of an investment banker, someone with celebrity status or someone involved in a political career. However, she stated the question is “to what degree the spouse not possessed of the intangible asset was entitled to a distributive aware arising from the enhanced earning capacity of the career developed during the marriage and not the degree of fame, skill or political acumen possessed at the time of the marriage.”
Henry Silverman is out of luck. The 450 million dollars he amassed is subject to equitable distribution with his wife. I’m sure he’ll end up with enough money to prevent himself from starving.
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