Most divorces in California and around the country are settled amicably and quickly, with the estranged couple reaching an agreement on property division and other issues and submitting it to the court for its approval. A long-running divorce case in New York, though, has proven to be an exception.
The wife in this case filed for divorce in 2008. One year later, while the proceedings were still pending, the husband sold a piece of real estate and netted nearly $800,000 on the transaction. His wife's attorney maintained that the Brooklyn parcel was part of the marital estate, and in 2009, the court ordered the husband to deposit the proceeds into an escrow account. He refused to comply, stating that he no longer had the money.
In addition, during the proceedings, the husband claimed that he had previously gotten a divorce from his wife in Lebanon, and as such, he was no longer bound by New York marital property division rules. In early September 2015, the court directed him to divulge where the sales proceeds are. He has refused, and the court is expected to rule in October whether or not to hold him in civil contempt.
Unlike New York, California is a community property state, and unless the couple has otherwise agreed, courts in general will divide property obtained during the marriage equally between divorcing spouses. One aspect of property division that can become difficult is determining what should be deemed marital property and what is separately owned. A person whose marriage is ending may want to obtain the assistance of a family law attorney in locating, identifying and valuing all marital assets.
Source: ABC News, "Divorcing Husband Urges NY Court to Accept Silence on Money", Michael Virtanen, Associated Press, Sept. 10, 2015