A recent column authored by Attorney Wendy Samuelson was published by the New York State Bar Association's Family Law Review. The article, titled "Recent Legislation, Decisions and Trends in Matrimonial Law," outlined new legislative developments that were recently signed into law. In this blog, we'll highlight some of the more notable court decisions mentioned in the article:
Grounds/Residency Requirement: Stancil v. Stancil
In this case, the husband was a Virginia resident and the wife resided in South Carolina. Fourteen months before filing for divorce, the wife relocated to New York for an internship and used the state's no-fault divorce ground. She argued that she met New York's residence requirements for filing for divorce, which states that a divorce can be filed if "the cause occurred in the state and either party has been a resident thereof for a continuous period of at least one year immediately preceding the commencement of the action." The court, however, concluded that the breakdown of a marriage is subjective, and therefore, a party cannot use that ground for establishing residency. Therefore, in order for the wife to bring the action in New York, she would be required to live in New York for a period of two years immediately prior to commencing the action.
Child Custody: Matter of Creek v. Dietz
When awarding visitation to a non-custodial parent, the courts will prioritize what is in the best interests of the child. In this case, a mother successfully petitioned the court, to modify a child custody and visitation order because of the father's usage of illegal drugs.
Equitable Distribution: Stewart v. Stewart
In this case, the court awarded the husband a larger share of the marital estate due to his wife's "egregious economic fault." When dividing property and assets, the wife claimed that she gave away $10 million worth of property and jewelry. Furthermore, she failed to disclose any offshore and foreign accounts. During her testimony, the wife purported to have transferred her assets, yet offered no evidence to support her claim. Furthermore, had her claim been truthful, transferring her assets would have been considered a wasteful dissipation of marital assets.
Attorney Wendy B. Samuelson is an associate editor for the Family Law Review and writes "Recent Legislation, Decisions and Trends in Matrimonial Law," which is published every quarter by the New York State Bar Association.
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