Steinberg v. Steinberg

Decision Date24 February 2009
Docket Number2007-05850.
Citation59 A.D.3d 702,2009 NY Slip Op 01466,874 N.Y.S.2d 230
PartiesMARSHA STEINBERG, Respondent-Appellant, v. MELVIN STEINBERG, Appellant-Respondent.
CourtNew York Supreme Court — Appellate Division

Ordered that the judgment is modified, on the law, the facts, and in the exercise of discretion, (1) by deleting the provisions thereof awarding the defendant a separate property interest in his JP Morgan Chase investment account, his interest in Phoenix Capital & Management Company, and a note payable to him by Phoenix Capital & Management Company, and substituting therefor a provision directing that those assets are marital property subject to equitable distribution, (2) by deleting the provision thereof valuing the defendant's JP Morgan Chase investment account at $276,724, and substituting therefor a provision valuing that account at $351,724.35, (3) by deleting the provision thereof valuing the defendant's interest in Phoenix Capital & Management Company at $333,333, and substituting therefor a provision valuing the defendant's interest in Phoenix Capital & Management Company at $666,666, and (4) by adding a provision thereto valuing the parties' AB Watley account at $6,152.97; as so modified, the judgment is affirmed insofar as appealed and cross-appealed from, with costs payable to the plaintiff.

The Supreme Court providently exercised its discretion in dividing the marital assets equally between the parties. When both spouses equally contribute to a marriage of long duration, as here, the division of marital property should be as equal as possible (see Adjmi v Adjmi, 8 AD3d 411, 412-413 [2004]).

The Supreme Court improvidently exercised its discretion in awarding the defendant a separate property interest with respect to his JP Morgan Chase investment account. "Property acquired during the marriage is presumed to be marital property and the party seeking to overcome such presumption has the burden of proving that the property in dispute is separate property" (Judson v Judson, 255 AD2d 656, 657 [1998]; see D'Angelo v D'Angelo, 14 AD3d 476, 477 [2005]; Farag v Farag, 4 AD3d 502, 503 [2004]). Here, the assets in question were acquired during the marriage, and the defendant's testimony that the source of the assets could be traced to premarital property, unsupported by documentary evidence, was insufficient to overcome the marital presumption (see D'Angelo v D'Angelo, 14 AD3d at 477; Farag v Farag, 4 AD3d at 503). Also, the defendant's JP Morgan Chase investment account, as well as the parties' AB Watley account, both active assets, should have been valued at $351,724.35 and $6,152.97 respectively, which was their value as of the date of commencement of this action (see Kirshenbaum v Kirshenbaum, 203 AD2d 534, 535 [1994]).

The Supreme Court also should have awarded the plaintiff a marital share of Phoenix Capital & Management Company (hereinafter Phoenix) and a note payable to the defendant by Phoenix. Although Phoenix was created two years prior to the parties' marriage, the defendant could not recollect what Phoenix did during the time that preceded the marriage. Instead, the defendant testified that Phoenix acquired an office building two years after the marriage, which was its only asset, and that he and other partners contributed money to Phoenix to manage the property after its purchase. The defendant did not trace the source of his portion of the building's acquisition costs to separate pre-marital funds and likewise did not establish that his actual financial contributions to the building's acquisition and management costs were not derived from marital funds (D'Angelo v D'Angelo, 14 AD3d at 477; Capasso v Capasso, 119 AD2d 268, 272 [1986]). Marital property is to be viewed broadly, while separate property is to be viewed narrowly (see Price v Price, 69 NY2d 8, 15 [1986]; Saasto v Saasto, 211 AD2d 708, 709 [1995]). Where, as here, ...

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    • United States
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    • July 16, 2014
    ...that the property in dispute is separate property” (Judson v. Judson, 255 A.D.2d 656, 657, 679 N.Y.S.2d 465; see Steinberg v. Steinberg, 59 A.D.3d 702, 704, 874 N.Y.S.2d 230; D'Angelo v. D'Angelo, 14 A.D.3d 476, 477, 788 N.Y.S.2d 154; Farag v. Farag, 4 A.D.3d 502, 503, 772 N.Y.S.2d 368). He......
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