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Separation Agreement Upheld: Husband’s Request To Set It Aside Denied

father's rights attorneysA husband and wife entered into a separation agreement. The separation agreement dealt with issues concerning custody, parenting time, and the parties’ finances. The agreement specifically provided during the period of time the parties were legally separated they would continue to deal with their finances as they had in the past while they were married. Pursuant to this portion of the agreement, both parties were to deposit their wages into a joint bank account at HSBC.

Husband Fails to Comply With Agreement

The husband stopped depositing his earnings into the bank account. The wife brought a proceeding to enforce the parties’ separation agreement and cause the husband to continue depositing his income into the joint HSBC account. The husband took the position the separation agreement should be declared invalid and he should not be responsible for depositing his income into the HSBC joint account.

Justice Jeffrey Goodstein sitting in the Supreme Court Part in Nassau County found the husband had breached the terms of the agreement and the wife had not. He granted the application from the wife to cause the husband to deposit all of his income for the years 2012 and 2013 into the joint bank account. In addition, he ordered both the husband and the wife to provide each other with a detailed accounting of the use of the funds which were deposited into the joint HSBC account. Judge Goodstein denied the husband’s application to set aside the separation agreement.

Conclusion

Let’s start with the fact that if you are getting legally separated, you shouldn’t be sharing a joint bank account. You should each have separate bank accounts. This seems to be a very poorly drafted separation agreement. In the end, if you enter into a validly executed separation agreement, a court will most likely force you to live up to its terms.

Husbands and fathers should be careful as to what they sign!

Elliot S. Schlissel is a father’s rights lawyer. He has been representing fathers for more than 35 years.custody and parenting rights advocates for fathers

Distribution of Pensions and Retirement Assets in Divorces

fathers rights attorneysIn the State of New York, the distribution of assets accumulated during the course of a marriage is dealt with under the theory of equitable distribution. If the parties cannot amicably resolve issues concerning their assets in a divorce, the assets of the marriage which include, cars, houses, personal property, cash, investment assets, pensions and retirement accounts, are equitably distributed by a judge. The equitable distribution of retirement assets, pensions, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and IRAs, can be a complicated process. Sometimes these assets need to be evaluated by a pension evaluation firm or an actuarial firm to determine the portion of the pension asset which was accumulated during the course of the marriage.

Retirement accounts the parties accumulate during the course of the marriage are considered marital property subject to equitable distribution. This is true even if only one spouse has a pension and the other spouse didn’t work. When there are retirement assets such as pensions, 401(k)s, or 403(b)s, which accumulated during the course of a marriage, it is necessary to obtain a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (hereinafter referred to as a “QDRO”). The purpose of a QDRO is to provide the administrators of the retirement asset with a breakdown as to how the benefits shall be paid between the employee and the non-employee spouse. QDROs also eliminate, minimize and/or distribute, the taxes that are to be paid between the parties when the deferred compensation assets are received.

QDROs

QDROs are very complicated court orders. The process to obtain a QDRO usually involves providing a pension analysis firm or actuarial firm with all of the necessary financial information related to the pension or deferred compensation plan. These firms analyze the portion of the asset accumulated during the marriage and the portion accumulated prior to the marriage. After clarifying this information, they draft the QDRO and forward it to the attorneys for the respective parties. The attorneys thereafter check the QDRO to make sure it is accurate and submit the QDRO to the judge handling the divorce for his/her signature. After the QDRO is executed by the judge, it is served by the attorneys on the administrators of the retirement accounts referred to in the QDRO. QDROs are important to see to it that the parties to a divorce obtain the retirement benefits they are entitled to. These benefits will become very important down the road when they will help pay for living expenses during the respective party’s retirement.father's advocate

Internet Downloaded Separation Agreement Found Valid

father's rights lawyerIn a recent case before Justice Leonard Steinman sitting in the Supreme Court Divorce Part in Nassau County, a husband had filed a divorce action against his wife. In this proceeding, he sought to incorporate by reference a separation agreement into the judgement of divorce. The wife argued the agreement should not be allowed to be incorporated into the judgement of divorce. She claimed she was induced by fraud into signing the agreement.

A motion was made to determine whether the agreement was valid. The Court found the agreement was drafted by the wife. She found the agreement on an internet website. After downloading and printing the agreement she presented it to the husband, he executed it.
The agreement had a waiver of spousal maintenance. It also stated there would be “no demand for child support payments”. The agreement required the parties sell the marital home and equally divide the proceeds. Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, the parties opted out of exchanging financial net worth statements. Neither the husband nor the wife were represented by an attorney during the course of the negotiation and execution of the agreement. However, the parties did properly execute the agreement before a notary public and they filed it with the County Clerk of Nassau County.

The Agreement Terms Were Followed

The Court found that the parties had followed the terms of the agreement after its execution. The Court found the parties had lived separate lives. They did not share a bedroom together. They also filed separate tax returns.

The Court found the separation agreement executed by the wife was not unfair or inequitable. The judge ruled the wife’s claims that the parties did not intend to be bound by the agreement were undercut by “its unambiguous terms.” He made this decision even though the wife waived spousal maintenance in the agreement.

It should be noted, the husband acknowledged that the child support provision does not comply with the Child Support Standards Act. However, he agreed that this could be severed from the agreement and the rest of the agreement could be enforced.

Justice Steinman found the agreement to be valid and incorporated it into the judgement of divorce.

Conclusion

In this case, the wife wanted to have her cake and to eat it too. She drafts an agreement and then decides later on she wants more. Justice Steinman found she was not entitled to a second bite at the apple. This is a case where men’s rights were protected.advocate for father's rights