The Soccer Mom

Melissa and Ivan had an eighteen year marriage when they separated. They had two children in college and one in high school. They had a traditional marriage. Melissa was the homemaker and caretaker of the children. She began working part-time one year after the separation. Ivan was an accountant who had worked for a prestigious firm and then had started his own insurance business after the date of the summons for divorce.

The divorce action was initiated by the husband 4 years after the separation. Ivan’s grounds for divorce were constructive abandonment and cruel and inhuman treatment. Melissa counterclaimed for abandonment, adultery and cruel and inhuman treatment.

A pendente lite motion was brought by the wife while the divorce action was pending. The motion requested, and the Judge granted the wife, temporary maintenance, direct payment of the bills of the marital residence, including but not limited to mortgage payments, taxes, insurance, utilities and landscaping. Melissa was awarded interim exclusive occupancy of the marital home. Ivan was also ordered to pay the bills on the other real estate owned by Ivan and Melissa. Besides the marital residence in Westchester, they owned cooperative apartments in New York City and Westchester and condominiums in Utah.

Ivan was directed to purchase a new car for Melissa, pay for auto insurance, maintain health insurance and pay all unreimbursed medical costs. Custody of the youngest child was granted to Melissa as well as child support. Ivan was ordered to pay all college tuition and college related expenses for the older child.

The trial of the action did not take place until more than four years after the legal action commenced. Prior to the trial and after the pendente lite motion, enforcement motions were necessary to seek arrears in payment from the Husband.

The trial lasted three weeks over a period of months. The witnesses included forensic accountants to determine the value of Ivan’s CPA license and his business. The Husband’s forensic accountant asserted that the CPA license is not used in his current position as owner of an insurance company. Thus, the CPA license would have a minimal value. However, our arguments won and the court recognized that there are many people who are licensed in a profession and choose to enter the work force in a different capacity. The contacts and knowledge obtained by having a particular degree creates and leads to career opportunities. The court acknowledged Ivan’s career path commencing with Ivan obtaining the CPA license. The CPA license made it possible for Ivan to become a partner at a prestigious financial firm. This partnership provided the experience and contacts to open his own business. The court found that Melissa was entitled to 50% of the value of the CPA license and 50% of the business.

Melissa received 50% of the value of all of the marital property including all of the real estate. The court took account of the length of the marriage and the significant contributions made by Melissa as a homemaker.

The court also gave Melissa credit for dissipation of an asset by the Husband. The Husband rented one of the cooperative apartments to a woman “friend”. The rent charged was substantially below fair market value. A real estate appraiser testified as an expert concerning what the fair market value should have been. The court determined that the difference between the fair market value and the rent charged constituted a dissipation.