Pennsylvania couples who are going through a divorce and who are struggling with property division issues might be interested in knowing about a case that is wending its way through the New York court system. The man in that case is facing civil contempt for refusing to tell the court where money from the sale of marital property that took place during his divorce proceeding went.
The New York case began in 2008, when the man’s wife filed for divorce. He subsequently sold a piece of property in Brooklyn at a profit of $776,000. He was later ordered to deposit the money in an escrow account as part of the property division negotiations, but he did not comply, arguing that his divorce had already taken place in Lebanon and therefore New York law did not apply. He also alleged that he no longer had the money at the time the escrow order was issued.
The case is now awaiting a ruling from the New York State Court of Appeals. The man has refused to testify and say what he did with the money, only that he no longer has it. His lawyer argued in court that he should not be forced to testify and that the burden of proof is on others to show that he does indeed have the funds. There is a possibility that he will found in civil contempt.
Pennsylvania courts follow the principle of equitable distribution in divorce cases, which means that marital property division must be fair, though not necessarily equal. In order to make such a decision, though, the court will need to be aware of the location of all of the couple’s assets. A family law attorney can often be of assistance to a client who believes that the other spouse has hidden some assets that would be properly classified as marital property.