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Husband’s Personal Injury Award Converted Into Marital Assets And Subject to Equitable Distribution

divorce lawyer New YorkIn a case before Justice Stacy Bennett sitting in a Divorce Part in Nassau County, a wife brought a divorce lawsuit against her husband. They had been married in 2001. Issues involving parental access, grounds, custody, and all other issues had been decided by the court. The issue presented to Justice Stacy Bennett was whether a personal injury settlement of $1,638,348.90, which had been initiated prior to the marriage was converted from separate property into marital property. And then, if it was marital property, what portion of the marital property would the wife be entitled to?

The wife in this case alleged the personal injury settlement award to the husband was converted and transmuted into marital assets and were no longer separate property. The husband alleged that since the assets involved were all the proceeds of a personal injury award, and personal injury awards are not subject to equitable distribution, all of said assets belonged to him.

Assets Converted Into Marital Property

Justice Stacy Bennett held a trial with regard to this matter. After reviewing the evidence, she found the husband had converted the separate assets into marital assets and therefore these assets were subject to a distributive award.

The usual manner in which separate property assets are converted into marital assets is by putting one’s spouse on an account where those assets are located. Another way of converting them would be to spend them on improving a marital asset, such as the marital residence which is in both parties’ names.

Conclusion

If you want to maintain separate assets, separate and not have them become marital property, you should maintain them in a separate bank account or investment account and not put your spouse’s name on the account.divorce attorney

‘Genius’ Not Taken Into Account in Equitable Distribution

divorce-150x150Judge 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.

Innate Talents

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.

New York and Long Island Divorce Lawyer

The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo have been handling divorces in the Metropolitan New York area for over thirty-three years. We litigate all aspects of divorce related proceedings in the Supreme Court and Family Court. These proceedings involve divorce grounds, no fault divorce, child custody, mothers’ rights, fathers’ rights, child support, downward modification of child support, spousal maintenance (alimony) and domestic violence issues. In addition, we negotiate separation agreements, prenuptial agreementsand post-nuptial agreements for our clients. We litigate equitable distribution issues involving doctor, dentist and lawyer licenses. Call us for a free consultation.

The Court Values Marital Property and Professional License

Justice W. Kelly, sitting in the Supreme Court in Rockland County recently rendered a decision in a contested matrimonial action. In this lawsuit he determined the valuation of the husband’s dental practice. He also valued other separate property and marital property. The assets in question were the marital residence and its contents, and husband’s commercial real estate as well as his dental practice in Rockland County. There was also an issue concerning the appreciation of a dental practice the husband maintained in the City of New York. The couple also had bank accounts, bonds, investments and various retirement accounts. On the other side of the ledger were credit card debts.

During the course of the trial the husband claimed that he was entitled to a credit of approximately $324,000. This represented a gift from his father that he used to purchase the parties’ home. The parties’ home in Rockland County was appraised at the time of the divorce at approximately $915,000.

The wife claimed that the gift from the husband’s father had been trans-mutated into marital property because it had been commingled. Justice Kelly determined that plaintiff was entitled to a credit for the separate property used to purchase the home, to wit: the $324,000 given to him by his father, even though there was a commingling of the separate property with marital assets. He stated that the balance of the proceeds from the sale of the marital residence should be distributed equally. He awarded the wife a 35% interest in the equity in her husband’s real estate. This took into consideration her participation in his dental practice.

High Asset Divorces

Our law firm has been representing doctors, lawyers and individuals who own small businesses in divorces for three decades. High asset divorces require the skill, patience and knowledge of very experienced matrimonial attorneys. Our office maintains an accountant on our staff to assist us in the valuation of sophisticated assets. If you have issues involving equitable distribution of assets, division of property, valuation of professional practices and licenses in divorce proceedings, the eighty (80) years of combined expertise in our law firm has in handling divorces would be invaluable to you. Call us for a free consultation at 1-800-344-6431; 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.

Judge Bars Wife From Home

fathers-150x150Judge Bruno, a Supreme Court Justice sitting in Nassau County, has given a father exclusive occupancy of the marital residence. In New York, a judge can give one spouse exclusive use and occupancy of the marital residence during the pendency of a divorce case. In this case, the court found that the mother’s occupancy in the house caused “domestic strife” and that removing her from the house was necessary to protect the children and father.In this case, the wife had numerous unexplained absences for periods of time. Although she claimed she was in alcohol treatment programs, this could not be verified. Judge Bruno ruled “based on the lengthy periods of time the defendant was living in an alternate residence, which was not necessary for her alcohol related problems, this court finds such a time away from the martial residence to be voluntary on the part of the defendant.” Judge Bruno further stated, “as part of the foregoing, it is not necessary for this court to opine upon whether the time period defendant was absent from the marital residence for alcohol related therapy was considered voluntary”.Counsel for the wife claimed that she was only out of the house due to participating in therapy programs related to her alcoholic condition. Judge Bruno did not buy this argument. The father was given the custody of his children and the mother received visitation with the children.

Fathers’ Rights

Fathers have equal rights to live in their homes. It is common for women in divorce situations to bring applications for orders of protection to throw fathers out of the house for the purpose of obtaining exclusive occupancy of the household. This puts fathers in a very difficult position when arguing for custody of their children.

Mothers sometimes are also involved in parental alienation. They try to turn the children against their fathers. The bad-mouthing of the father to the children can create parental alienation syndrome in the children.

Fathers need to be protected. At the Law Office of Schlissel DeCorpo, we have been protecting fathers for in excess of thirty years. Should you have issues involving divorce, orders of protection, child custody, visitation, paternity, parental alienation or parental alienation syndrome, call us at 1-800-344-6431 or contact us by email. We can help you!

The Kidney is Not Marital Property!

kidneysVess Mitev, star reporter at the New York Law Journal, reported on the decision of a Nassau County Court Referee issued this past Tuesday on the Batista v. Batista “Kidney Case.” As has been widely reported, Dr. Batista, a surgeon, donated a kidney to his wife in 2001. Now that they are getting divorced (with the case already dragging on for four years), he sought to have the kidney considered “marital property.” The result of such a determination would have been that she would either be credited as having already received $1.5m (its purported monetary value) from him, or, in the alternative, that she should return the kidney to him (!).

The parties agreed to have the case decided by a Court Referee. In his ruling in the case, Referee Grob looked to, among other sources, the New York Public Health law, § 4307 which states that it “shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer for valuable consideration any human organ for use in human transplantation.”

Grob used this rule, along with the New York public policy against equating human organs with commodities to be bought and sold for compensation, as the basis to dissallow testimony regarding the “monetary value” of the kidney that Dr. Batista sought to offer at trial on the issue of the division of marital assets.

It will be interesting to see whether Batista’s lawyer, showman trial attorney Dominic Barbara, has any other creative arguments up his sleeve for the upcoming matters that still remain to be decided in the case, including division of the martial assets, maintenance, child support, and a contempt action against Dr. Batista for allegedly failing to pay child support.

Picture courtesy of Limelife.com.

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