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Appellate Court is Reluctant to Disturb the Ruling of the Family Court


W v. W

2018 NY Slip Op 05956

August 29, 2018


The defendant appeals from a Supreme Court judgment, where the plaintiff was awarded the maintenance sum of $2,000 per month. The plaintiff also received $100,333.33 representing 1/3 value in the defendant’s business. The court didn’t award the defendant credit against the proceeds of the sale of the marital home for payments made to them to reduce the principal balance of the home equity line and mortgage. The court failed to mention that the parties are equally responsible for the remaining balance of the mortgage and home equity line.

The judgment is modified as follows. Provisions will be added awarding the defendant a credit against the proceeds of the sale of the house (50%), and a provision will be added stating that the parties are equally responsible for the balance of the home equity line.

The parties were married in July of 1998. Before they were married, the defendant was given a home by his mother, which he shared with his other 2 siblings. In 1999, the defendant purchased the other 2/3 share of the home. After that, the plaintiff and the defendant lived in the home with their kids. In 2001 the defendant started his own business.

In 2008, the plaintiff filed for divorce. The Supreme Court directed the defendant to pay temporary child support of $150 per week. The defendant also paid a majority of charges for maintenance of the house. In 2009, the parties stipulated that the defendant would have full occupancy of the house and would pay child support of $350 per week. Subsequently, child support was raised to $700 per week.

After this, the Supreme Court awarded the plaintiff $100,333.33 for 1/3 of the business and maintenance of $2,000 per month. The court declined to give him credit for the payments made towards the home. The defendant appeals.

The court held that the amount and duration of the maintenance is up to the sole discretion of the court and will depend on the unique facts of each case (Galanopoulos v Galanopoulos 152 AD3d 745). In determining this, the court looks at the duration of the marriage income of the parties, present and future earning capacity, the health of the parties and their ability of the party to be self-supporting, and the lost lifetime income of the party seeking maintenance (Horn v Horn 145 AD3d 666, 668). The overriding purpose of maintenance is to give the party economic independence and should allow enough time for the party to become self-supporting.

The court also said that the trial court is given broad discretion in making an equitable property distribution and it shouldn’t be disturbed (Aloi v Simoni 82 AD3d 683). Equitable distribution of property is based on the theory that a marriage is an economic partnership and both parties contribute (K v B 13 AD3d 12).

If you have a family law matter such as a divorce, custody dispute or spousal support issue, contact the law offices of Stephen Bilkis and Associates for guidance and a free consultation at 1-800-NYNYLAW.

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