One of the most contentious issues in many divorce cases is how marital assets should be disbursed and what support if any, one spouse should be obligated to pay the other. Unfortunately, parties do not always agree with support orders issued by the court and in many cases, a party will refuse to pay money owed without additional court intervention. Recently, in a divorce case decided by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, the court discussed the consequences of one party’s failure to pay his or her share of marital debt. If you are deliberating filing for divorce it is prudent to speak with a seasoned New York family law attorney to discuss your rights and obligations.
Facts of the Case
It is reported that the wife filed an action seeking a divorce in 2012. The parties entered into a stipulation in which the husband agreed to pay the wife maintenance and child support, and the wife agreed to use the funds she received from the husband to pay for fees associated with the marital home where she resided with the couple’s children. The wife wanted to sell the home, but the husband did not and sought to buy the wife’s share of the property, but the parties could not agree on a fair amount. The husband subsequently failed to make the stipulated maintenance and support payments, and the house went into foreclosure.
It is alleged that the wife moved to enforce the stipulation and direct the husband to pay his arrears so that the marital residence could be sold. The trial court granted the motion and ordered the marital home to be sold and directed that the husband’s arrearages would be taken from the proceeds of the sale. The order also stated that the wife would receive credits from the sale due to the husband’s dissipation of marital assets. The court ultimately issued the wife credit for 50% of the payments she made on the mortgage and taxes of the home, child support arrears, and a portion of the defendant’s business. The husband appealed, arguing that the court erred in granting the wife credits for her portion of the payments on the house, as it resulted in him making double payments due to the fact that he was paying child support during that time. The court rejected the husband’s argument.