Math Errors Can Cost Your Clients A Lot of Money…Or Not

The Second Department of the Supreme Court of New York issued a ruling on March 19, 2014 regarding the divorce case of Hackett v. Hackett. This case demonstrates the importance of not only making correct calculations in divorce settlements but being able to back your assumptions with clear documentation. This is why a tool like EzSupport-NY is so critical to family law attorneys.

The Basics of The Case

When the Hackett got divorced they created a settlement that was intended to divide the marital assets equally. As family law attorneys know, valuing certain kinds of assets can be a tricky proposition. However they reached what was supposedly a mutually agreeable valuation, which resulted in the wife paying the husband approximately $19,000 to equalize the assets. Two years later the husband filed for a correction saying there had been a computational error and he was actually due just over $100,000 in additional payments. The Kings County Supreme Court agreed but then the Second Department overturned that decision, claiming the husband had not provided proof of the mutual mistake that was “clear and beyond doubt”.

Burden Of Proof

Just because you enter numbers on the NY net worth statement, the numbers add up and everybody signs the agreement doesn’t mean the agreement will stand. There is always the chance that one spouse will come back later and claim to have been misinformed or not to have understood. The challenge for an attorney is to prove that the spouse entered the agreement with full knowledge of all the implications of the settlement. And, of course, that the math is right.

New York family law attorneys are depending more than ever on NY matrimonial law software like EzSupport-NY to remove one potential future challenge: arithmetic mistakes. You still have to be sure to get the numbers right but once you do then at least you know the calculations will be correct.

You can also back any figure with information by adding endnotes. The endnotes will be printed along with the net worth statement so the spouse can’t claim ignorance of any assumptions in the future. The information was there. The spouse signed it. Case closed.

Download a free trial of EzSupport-NY to explore the application yourself. You will quickly see how easy it is to collect data from clients, complete the Statement of New Worth and to develop and compare multiple support scenarios.