Court Discusses New York Law Regarding the Disposition of Marital Assets in Divorce

While married people generally have the right to buy and sell assets as they see fit, parties engaged in the process of ending their marriage via divorce generally do not enjoy such freedoms. Specifically, New York law generally enjoins parties from disposing of marital assets without express permission. Recently, a New York court elaborated on the law restraining parties involved in divorce actions from transferring assets in a matter in which the husband sought permission to sell a wine collection to pay marital debts. If you are contemplating seeking a divorce and have concerns about how the decision to end your marriage may impact your rights, it is prudent to confer with a New York divorce attorney regarding your options.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the wife instituted a divorce action and sought ancillary relief in July 2018. Later that year, the husband moved for permission to sell part of the parties’ wine collection while the divorce was pending and advised the court that he intended to use the proceeds of the sale to pay marital expenses and debts. The trial court denied the husband’s motion, after which he appealed.

New York Law Regarding the Disposition of Marital Assets in Divorce Cases

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. In doing so, the court explained that New York Domestic Relations law section 236 dictates that upon the commencement of a divorce action orders prohibiting the parties from disposing of or transferring marital property without the consent of the court or the written consent of the opposing party will automatically issue.

The purpose of such orders is to maintain the status quo of any property the parties hold separately or jointly by barring the parties from encumbering or selling real or personal property, transferring retirement funds, changing beneficiary designations on life or health insurance policies, or accumulating unreasonable debt, while the divorce is pending.

In the subject case, the court found that the affidavits the parties offered in connection with the husband’s motion offered conflicting accounts of the value and size of the wine collection, each party’s responsibilities during the marriage with regard to sales from the collection, and their alleged behavior with respect to household finances. As such, the court found that it was necessary to deny the husband’s motion in order to maintain the status quo and confirm that neither party would suffer undue prejudice due to the unilateral dissipation of marital property. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Talk to a Dedicated New York Divorce Attorney

The decision to end a marriage not only has emotional ramifications but also frequently causes economic consequences as well. If you wish to seek a divorce and have questions about how the decision may impact your rights and financial status, it is wise to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Ksenia Rudyuk is a trusted New York family law attorney with ample experience handling divorce actions, and she can assist you in pursuing a favorable outcome. You can contact Ms. Rudyuk through the form online or at 212-706-2001 to set up a meeting.

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