Articles Posted in Equitable distribution of marital property

marriage dissolution

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A New York divorce proceeding can be a difficult and stressful process. While many resources are available to assist the parties with finding an amicable resolution, and to help deal with the emotional difficulties of divorce, the courtroom is not one of those places. Most divorce cases result in some sort of settlement, but if the parties cannot agree, the matter goes to trial for the court to decide. Bringing too much emotion into the courtroom usually only makes judges annoyed or angry. As one party in a proceeding before the Suffolk County Supreme Court, G.T. v. A.T., learned last year, it can also impact the outcome of the case. An experienced family law attorney with knowledge of New York’s laws and legal system can help identify the important issues in a divorce case.

Under New York law, a court may not grant a divorce until the parties have resolved multiple issues, including the “equitable distribution of marital property,” or the court orders a resolution. In G.T. v. A.T., the wife filed for divorce in 2011 with the assistance of counsel, and the husband represented himself as defendant. The court criticized the husband for using his “self-represented status as both a sword and shield” throughout the proceeding.

The case ultimately went to trial over twelve days spread out over a period of several months, from June until September 2013. The court described the evidence presented at trial by the husband as “minimal,” “fueled by his own emotional agenda,” and “oftentimes…devoid of probative value.” His 39-page posttrial memorandum, according to the court, contained only three or four pages’ worth of issues addressed at trial. This caused significant delay in the court’s ability to make a ruling. The only issues addressed by the court in its order were the division of debt and personal property and the apportionment of legal fees.

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empty wallet

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In legal matters, sometimes the littlest things make the biggest differences. It’s why people speak of “the fine print.” In some cases, it might be the definition of the word “is.” In a recent multi-million-dollar divorce, it was three little letters:  “the.” A prenuptial agreement’s use of the phrase “the marital property,” instead of “marital property,” made all the difference, leading the Appellate Division to reject millions of dollars of separate property credits the husband sought.

The credits related to a prenuptial agreement that Lawrence Babbio Jr. and Sheri Babbio signed before they married. The agreement spelled out certain circumstances under which a spouse could claim a separate property offset credit. Specifically, a spouse was entitled to pursue a credit if the marriage lasted less than 10 years and the spouse seeking the credit could demonstrate that he or she used at least $1 million of separate assets to purchase the piece of marital property.

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property division

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One issue many people have upon entering a marriage is what will happen to certain assets they bring into the relationship if the marriage fails. The manner in which one woman handled a piece of real estate, and the decision at which the courts arrived with regard to that property, is very instructive to anyone holding such concerns. The way the woman used the property made it marital property subject to equitable distribution, according to a Supreme Court judge and upheld by the Appellate Division.

Six years before Christina and Thomas Myers married, the wife took ownership of a piece of real estate. The woman owned the property free and clear of any debt. When she and the husband married, they used the property as their marital home. In 2005, the couple applied for a mortgage on the home to consolidate other debts. As part of the lender’s requirements, the woman transferred title of the home from her name to the names of both her and her husband jointly.

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