I have recently written about a trend in court decisions involving enhanced earnings toward reducing non-titled spouse’s interest to less than a 50% share. A recent decision, Haspel v. Haspel, 2010 N.Y. Slip. Op. 08530 (2nd Dept. 2010) illustrates this issue very well.
In Haspel, the trial court granted to the wife 50% of the husband’s enhanced earnings which resulted from his acquisition of several professional licenses, including, several securities dealer’s licenses and a real estate broker’s license. The trial court’s decision was appealed, and the Appellate Division modified the trial court’s decision.
Specifically, the Appellate Division held that the wife was entitled to 25% of husband’s enhanced earnings. While the court did not provide specific reasons for this reduction, the parties were married for nearly 23 years before the divorce action was commenced, they had two children, and at the time of trial, the plaintiff was 52 years old and the defendant was 49 years old. The wife was also going to receive spousal maintenance, however, this issue was remanded to the trial court for recalculation since the lower court’s decision improperly engaged in double counting of the same income for enhanced earnings calculations and maintenance calculations.
As I have written previously, the trend toward unequal division of enhanced earnings is continuing. Divorce lawyers and their clients would be well advised to review evidence related to non-titled spouse’s contribution carefully, if an argument is being made that the non-titled spouse should receive more than 25% of such enhanced earnings.