New York Court Discusses Equitable Distribution Following a Foreign Divorce

Many people who emigrate to New York from other places choose to file for divorce in their native countries to take advantage of favorable laws. Simply because one spouse obtains a divorce decree in another country does not mean that a party cannot litigate ancillary issues such as equitable distribution and spousal support, however. This was demonstrated in a recent New York ruling in which the court granted the wife’s request for equitable distribution and support after the husband obtained a foreign divorce decree. If your spouse filed for divorce in another country, you might nonetheless be able to have certain claims handled by a New York court, and it is smart to meet with a trusted New York divorce attorney to discuss your rights.

History of the Case

It is reported that the husband and the wife were married in 1987 in Bangladesh. They moved to New York in 1994. In the fall of 2015, the wife filed a petition for divorce. However, the court noted that the husband had obtained a default judgment of divorce in Bangladesh earlier that year. Thus, the court scheduled a trial to determine issues such as equitable distribution and maintenance. Following the trial, the court equitably distributed the marital property and ordered the husband to pay monthly maintenance for a term of fourteen years. The husband appealed, arguing the foreign divorce decree barred the wife from litigating issues of equitable distribution and maintenance.

Equitable Distribution Following a Foreign Divorce Decree

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. Specifically, the court held that pursuant to New York law, the wife was not precluded from asking the court to rule on the issues of maintenance and the division of marital property. The court explained that New York’s domestic relations law requires a court to equitably distribute marital assets based on the circumstances of a particular action, which requires a consideration of numerous factors.

Although the applicable law requires the court to discuss the factors it relied upon in distributing property, when it is clear that the court considered the appropriate factors and the reasons for the court’s decision are explained, it is not necessary for the court to explicitly cite and set forth each factor.

In the subject case, the court found that contrary to the husband’s assertion, the trial court applied and considered numerous statutory factors in making its equitable distribution. Further, the appellate court noted that trial courts are granted broad discretion in determining how to divide marital property, and that absent a clear error that discretion should not be disturbed. Thus, the trial court ruling was affirmed.

Meet with an Experienced Family Law Attorney in New York

Foreign divorce judgments can impact a person’s rights, and it is critical for anyone subject to a divorce decree issued in another country to seek legal counsel regarding what relief may be available. If you need assistance with a divorce matter or the pursuit of equitable distribution, attorney Ksenia Rudyuk can advise you of your options. Ms. Rudyuk is an experienced family law attorney, and if you hire her, she will help you fight to protect your rights. You can contact Ms. Rudyuk via the form online or at 212-706-2001 to set up a conference.

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