Over 30 years of experience in divorce & family law



Nassau County Divorce Lawyer

H. Michael Stern, Esq., a New York matrimonial and family law attorney and mediator with over 33 years of experience suggests that it is important to be vigilant about how marital funds are expended following the commencement of a divorce action.

In a recent case determined by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, Second Judicial Department, the Court held that the parties were accountable for the use of marital funds in paying their post-commencement separate obligations.

Money on a scale Allow me to explain what this means in a plain language example. The parties have a joint savings account that has a balance of $100,000.00 at the time the divorce action was filed. The money represented their combined earnings during the marriage and is considered “marital”. Once a divorce case is filed, future ordinary weekly earnings are no longer considered marital. That is because no additional marital property is created after the divorce case is filed. All money and property acquired after the filing of a divorce case is considered “separate.” So, in this example, one spouse removes money from the joint savings account to pay for a personal gym membership including monthly dues. That same spouse also uses the joint savings account to pay the household electric bill. The Appellate Court’s ruling permits the trial Court to recover the money used to pay for the cost of the gym membership which is considered a “separate” obligation (not related to family purpose). However, the Court would not recoup the money used to pay the electric bill for the family home, which would not be considered a separate obligation, even if the utility account was in the name of that spouse alone.

Accordingly, if marital savings or investment accounts containing pre-filing funds are being depleted after the commencement of a divorce action, it is important to carefully review the purpose of each expenditure made by the party using those funds during pre-trial discovery. During pre-trial discovery, documents can be obtained and reviewed, and questions posed to determine how the post-filing expenditures should be classified (as either marital or separate for recoupment purposes).

The above example only addresses ordinary and customary living expenses that may be permissible withdrawals under the ‘automatic orders,” a topic which exceeds the scope of this blog.

Focusing on the needs of the client and the results sought have always been a hallmark of my Long Island practice over the past 31 years.Feel free to contact me, H. Michael Stern, Esq. a Long Island divorce and family law attorney, if you are interested in discussing your matrimonial, divorce or family law matter at hmsternesq@gmail.com or by phone at 516-747-2290.

My Nassau County office is conveniently located adjacent to the Roosevelt Field Mall ring road at 666 Old Country Road in Garden City, New York.

Written by, H. Michael Stern, Divorce & Family Lawyer

The above offers general information for educational purposes. It does not provide comprehensive or complete legal analysis. Any information that I provide should not be relied upon as legal advice or legal opinion on any particular facts or circumstances. Outcomes and results described do not mean or suggest that similar results or outcomes can or could be obtained in any other situation. Each legal matter should be considered to be factually unique and subject to varying results. The invitation to contact the author is not a solicitation to provide professional services, nor is it a statement of availability to perform legal services in any jurisdiction other than the State of New York. This is attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee future outcomes.