Great News: New York Court Defines The Word “The”

We’ll all breath a little easier now that the Appellate Division, First Department has weighed in on the meaning of the word “the”. Reminiscent of Bill Clinton debating the meaning of “is”, in this particular divorce case that little “the” was worth millions of dollars because it impacted how certain assets on the NY net worth statement were interpreted.

The Financial Impact Of One Word

The case was Babbio v. Babbio and the decision was handed down on July 17, 2014. The issue boiled down to a sentence in the couple’s premarital agreement that laid out two possible ways to divide assets. They would be divided equally unless either party contributed more than a million dollars to “the Marital Property”, in which case that contributor would get the contribution plus half of the remaining value.

The debate came from the meaning of “the”. By stating “the Marital Property”, did that mean each piece of property had the million-dollar provision, or did it refer to the aggregate property? The court decided that “the” meant each asset individually. In other words, it wasn’t enough that the husband contributed over a million to their joint assets. He would get the advantageous split only on assets he contributed more than a million to individually.

Adapting To Changing Conditions

How easily could you handle this kind of property settlement? Tracking each asset and determining how much if it belonged to the husband or wife could be a terrible task if done in a spreadsheet — or with pen and paper if you are really old school. Are you able to divide each asset and liability according to different rules with your current NY family law software?

With EzSupport-NY you can propose distribution by percentage or by amount, and you can set this on each asset and liability independently. So in the “the” case, you could set most assets to split 50/50 but on any asset where a spouse contributed beyond the threshold, you could enter the distribution amount that included the contribution.

You may not handle multi-million dollar divorces with complicated prenups every day, but even so-called simple divorces are often not so simple. Get EzSupport-NY, the NY divorce software with all the features you need.