Skotnicki v. Skotnicki

Decision Date14 March 1997
Citation654 N.Y.S.2d 904,237 A.D.2d 974
PartiesTara L. SKOTNICKI, Respondent, v. Stephen B. SKOTNICKI, Appellant.
CourtNew York Supreme Court — Appellate Division

Fitzsimmons, Des Marteau by John Fitzsimmons, Rochester, for Appellant.

Darweesh, Callen, Lewis and Vondohlen (Michael Kelly, of counsel), Rochester, for Respondent.

Before DENMAN, P.J., and GREEN, DOERR, BALIO and FALLON, JJ.

MEMORANDUM:

Defendant appeals from an order denying his application to vacate and modify a judgment of divorce granted October 17, 1994. The judgment incorporated a separation agreement executed by the parties on August 16, 1994. Defendant contends that Supreme Court erred in refusing to modify the judgment with respect to various provisions of the separation agreement on the grounds of plaintiff's overreaching and unconscionability. We disagree.

"Judicial review [of separation agreements] is to be exercised circumspectly, sparingly and with a persisting view to the encouragement of parties settling their own differences in connection with the negotiation of property settlement provisions" (Christian v. Christian, 42 N.Y.2d 63, 71-72, 396 N.Y.S.2d 817, 365 N.E.2d 849). Nevertheless, separation agreements will be scrutinized "to see to it that they are arrived at fairly and equitably, in a manner so as to be free from the taint of fraud and duress, and to set aside or refuse to enforce those born of and subsisting in inequity" (Christian v. Christian, supra, at 72, 396 N.Y.S.2d 817, 365 N.E.2d 849).

An unconscionable bargain has been regarded as one " ' "such as no [person] in his [or her] senses and not under delusion would make on the one hand, and as no honest and fair [person] would accept on the other" ' [citation omitted], the inequality being ' "so strong and manifest as to shock the conscience and confound the judgment of any [person] of common sense" ' " (Christian v. Christian, supra, at 71, 396 N.Y.S.2d 817, 365 N.E.2d 849; see also, Hardenburgh v. Hardenburgh, 158 A.D.2d 585, 586, 551 N.Y.S.2d 552, lv. dismissed 76 N.Y.2d 982, 563 N.Y.S.2d 769, 565 N.E.2d 518). However, conclusory allegations that an agreement was unfair are insufficient (see, Amestoy v. Amestoy, 151 A.D.2d 709, 710, 543 N.Y.S.2d 141). "The fact that [one spouse] gave away more than he might legally have been compelled to give does not mean that the separation agreement was the product of overreaching" by the other spouse (Groper v. Groper, 132 A.D.2d 492, 497-498, 518 N.Y.S.2d 379). Although the agreement here is favorable to plaintiff, it is not unconscionably so. It is not the kind of bargain that only a deluded person would make. In fact, it appears to be just the type of agreement that a party might fashion in order to achieve a quick and amicable divorce.

Defendant's reliance on Arrow v. Arrow (133 A.D.2d 960, 520 N.Y.S.2d 468) and Vandenburgh v. Vandenburgh, 194 A.D.2d 957, 599 N.Y.S.2d 328 is misplaced. Those cases stand for the proposition that, where a separation...

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  • Shah v. Mitra
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • April 10, 2019
    ... ... Dawes , 110 A.D.3d 1450, 1452, 973 N.Y.S.2d 504 ; Pippis v. Pippis , 69 A.D.3d 824, 825, 892 N.Y.S.2d 771 ; Skotnicki v. Skotnicki , 237 A.D.2d 974, 975, 654 N.Y.S.2d 904 ; Arrow v. Arrow , 133 A.D.2d 960, 961, 520 N.Y.S.2d 468 ). Accordingly, the defendant's ... ...
  • Campbell v. Campbell
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • August 4, 2022
    ... ... Christian , 42 N.Y.2d 63, 73, 396 N.Y.S.2d 817, 365 N.E.2d 849 [1977] ; Skotnicki v. Skotnicki , 237 A.D.2d 974, 974-975, 654 N.Y.S.2d 904 [4th Dept. 1997] ; see generally Tuzzolino v. Tuzzolino , 156 A.D.3d 1402, 1403, 67 N.Y.S.3d ... ...
  • Weber v. Weber
    • United States
    • North Dakota Supreme Court
    • January 27, 1999
    ... ... This appears to be the kind of agreement no rational, undeluded person would make, and no honest and fair person would accept. See Skotnicki v. Skotnicki, 237 A.D.2d 974, 654 N.Y.S.2d 904, 905 (1997) (describing an unconscionable agreement). The district court did not err in finding the ... ...
  • Dawes v. Dawes
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • October 4, 2013
    ... ... to the encouragement of parties settling their own differences in connection with the negotiation of property settlement provisions' ( Skotnicki v. Skotnicki, 237 A.D.2d 974, 974, 654 N.Y.S.2d 904, quoting Christian v. Christian, 42 N.Y.2d 63, 7172, 396 N.Y.S.2d 817, 365 N.E.2d 849) ... ...
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