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New York’s New Strange Divorce Law

New York has never played by common divorce laws adopted by basically every other U.S. state, so it’s no surprise the little stubborn state is making waves again. This time the Empire State is getting flack for their alimony laws. More specifically, the way New York divorce courts recognize degrees obtained during a marriage is under scrutiny.

Case in Point

In a Wall Street Journal article on the subject, an example of the unfair New York alimony laws was found in the divorce case between Tanya Finch and Kenneth Quarty. The couple married in 2000, around the time Finch started working on her nursing degree. The couple divorced in 2009, by which time Finch had received her nursing degree. During the divorce, Quarty requested and was eligible to receive a percentage of the money Finch would potentially earn as a direct result of the degree she earned during their marriage.

Quarty was able to obtain this “potentially” earned money upfront because of the New York divorce law that recognizes a degree or professional license as marital property. New York courts calculate the lifetime worth of the degree, and divide that value into two as a part of the marital estate. This practice and New York’s other strange divorce laws have been petitioned and submitted for review.

Who Really Owns Your Degree?

When people enroll in any college, university, trade or skilled craft course, they anticipate the moment when they will receive a certificate of completion with their name on it. However, based on the New York law, that certificate or diploma might as well be reprinted to state the alumnus’s spouses’ name as well as the alumnus’s. In fact, any employee may as well include their spouses name on their payroll account because the state of New York also views any profits from any career as marital property.

New York’s law is not unfounded completely because any spouses income is in theory supplemented and supported by the other spouse’s support, which can be as menial as washing dishes while the student spouse is studying.

Why, Oh, Why?

However, New York lawyers and divorcees are not fighting the order to pay spousal support or maintenance. New Yorkers are astonished by and fighting the courts’ ability to grant “potential income,” which is money a person has not earned yet. New York citizens are frozen stiff at the sheer amount of money they “owe” their divorced spouse, most of which they are not even expected to have at the time of ruling.

The New York alimony regulations were originally fashioned to level the playing field for low-income, dependent spouses of a divorce. Yet in these changing times, the inequality of the laws and regulations have been exposed. Currently, New York law makers are waiting for the Law Revision Commission report before taking measures to change this piece of legislature.

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