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Family Law Reader

December 2002

A Survey of Divorce Cases Where the Marital Estate Exceeded $3 Million

Laura W. Morgan

Goodman v. Goodman, 797 So. 2d 1282 (Fla. DCA 2001):

A second marriage. The husband inherited $3.1 million from his parents during the marriage. The husband appeals from a final judgment of dissolution of marriage, challenging the trial court’s award of alimony on three grounds. First, he claims that the award effectively requires him to spend the principal of his non-marital inheritance to provide alimony at the level ordered by the court. Second, he contends that the alimony award was excessive in light of the parties’ standard of living throughout most of the marriage. Third, he objects to the court’s failure to impute income to the wife. Because each of these is within the discretion of the trial court, and there is both evidence and reason to support the court’s award, [the appeals court] affirm[ed].

Warner v. Warner, 46 S.W.2d 591 (Mo. Ct. App. 2001):

The couple married in 1977, separated in February, 1997, and the final decree of divorce was granted December 31, 1998. During the separation, but before the final decree, the husband relocated to NYC and had taken a job with AOL, where he acquired stock options worth several million dollars. The wife was granted one-half of all the stock options acquired during the marriage. The appeals court affirmed.

Bauer v. Bauer, 38 S.W.2d 449 (Mo. Ct. app. 2001):

The couple were married on May 1, 1980. During the marriage the husband worked at the family construction and property management business. The wife was primarily a homemaker, but worked out of the home on a limited basis. She also assisted in the operation of the family business. The couple’s assets at the time of the divorce totaled over $5 million. The husband worked long hours, and the wife began to abuse drugs, particularly methamphetamines. The husband filed for divorce.

The appellant raised four points on appeal. In Point I, he claimed in five subpoints that the trial court erred in awarding the respondent primary physical custody of three of the parties’ four minor children because it was “against the weight of the evidence, not supported by substantial credible evidence, contrary to law, and an abuse of discretion.” In Point II, he claimed that the trial court erred in awarding the respondent $10,000 of the $32,000 in attorney’s fees she incurred because, in doing so, it failed to consider, as required, the respondent’s financial resources to pay her own attorney’s fees, and her conduct during the marriage and the dissolution proceeding. In Point III, he claimed that the trial court erred in awarding him his non-marital property, as required by section 452.330, because in doing so it misapplied the law found in that section, and its award was against the weight of the evidence. In Point IV, he claimed that the trial court erred in awarding him his marital property, as required by section 452.330, because in doing so it misapplied the law found in that section, and its award was against the weight of the evidence.

The appeals court agreed with the husband as to Point I, but disagreed as to the other three points. The judgment was affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part.

Dematteo v. Dematteo, 436 Mass. 18, 762 N.E.2d 797 (2002):

The husband and the wife were married on March 23, 1990 on condition that the wife sign an antenuptial agreement. She agreed. At the time the husband was forty-seven years old, and the wife was forty-one years old. This was a first marriage for the husband and a second marriage for the wife. The wife was a secretary at the time of the marriage, earning $25,000 per year, with no assets, while the husband owned a construction company. His net worth was between $83 million and $108 million. The antenuptial agreement provided that the wife would receive the marital home free of encumbrance, yearly support of $35,000 until her death or remarriage with an annual cost-of-living increase, an automobile, and medical insurance until her death or remarriage. All property jointly acquired during the marriage would be divided between the parties in equal shares.

The husband filed for divorce in 1998, citing irretrievable breakdown and seeking enforcement of the agreement. The wife objected, stating that the agreement was neither fair nor reasonable, claiming to be incapacitated at the time of the execution of the agreement. The trial judge disagreed; the wife appealed. The judge in the Family and Probate Court agreed, stating that the agreement was unenforceable. The SJC disagreed, found the agreement to be valid at execution, and both fair and reasonable.

Sahin v. Sahin, 435 Mass. 396, 758 N.E.2d 132 (2001):

The couple were married for 28 years. The wife filed for divorce in 1994. The wife filed a complaint against the husband, seeking relief from a prior divorce judgment. She alleged that fraud perpetrated by the husband had resulted in a divorce judgment that was manifestly unconscionable. A Probate and Family Court judge granted the husband’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the wife’s complaint. The SJC granted the wife’s application and affirmed the judgment of the Probate and Family Court.

The wife claimed that the husband severely undervalued his business, which had been acquired by Lucent for 12.88 million shares of Lucent stock, which was worth at the time $1.48 billion. The court found no fraud.

In re Marriage of Grim, 107 Wash. App. 1060, 2001 WL 959923 (2001):

The couple were married for 36 years. The husband was a successful orthodontist; the wife did not work outside the home. The couple’s community and separate property totaled $4.7 million. The couple separated in 1998. In October 1999, the trial court entered a decree of dissolution that awarded $2,407,977.19, or 51 percent of the assets, to the wife and $2,310,187.30, or 49 percent of the assets, to the husband. The trial court characterized as community property all the couple’s assets that they owned as of the date of separation.

The wife appealed the property distribution, denial of maintenance, and denial of request for payment of attorney fees. Specifically, the wife claimed that the court erred in placing a 10% discount on the value of the orthodontic practice, which the court did by considering the husband’s age, health, past earning power, reputation in the community, and professional success. The court of appeals disagreed with the wife’s contentions.

Skokos v. Skokos, 347 Ark. 485, 65 S.W.3d 432 (2001):

The couple were married in 1967. They separated and were divorced in 1993. During the marriage the couple had financial interests in two cellular phone companies. The dispute arises as to the value of the two companies. The wife’s expert witnesses offered appraisals ranging from $5.68 million to $9.86 million for one company, and from $5.56 million to roughly $10 million for the other company. The husband’s experts, on the other hand, appraised the companies at values ranging from $2.91 million to $3.1 million for the second company, and $2.89 million to $2.94 million for the first. The judge hewed closer to the husband’s argument.

The wife appealed, saying that the companies had been undervalued. The supreme court disagreed.

Flechas v. Flechas, 791 So. 2d 295 (Miss. 2001):

The husband and the wife were married in June 1991 and were granted a divorce in October 1997 due to irreconcilable differences. In the judgment of divorce, the chancellor ruled that no assets were acquired by either party during the marriage raising no need for equitable distribution. The chancellor also awarded the wife $18,000 in lump sum alimony and $750 per month for one year in rehabilitative alimony. The wife appealed, claiming error in failing to divide any assets acquired during the marriage.

Prior to the marriage, the wife had been a schoolteacher, but she discontinued working outside the home after the marriage. The husband was the sole owner of a shipyard company and also substantial interest in three other companies. His assets were valued at $6.4 million at the time of the divorce.

The court of appeals agreed with the wife, stating that a substantial portion of the assets acquired during the marriage should have been classified as marital.

McCulloh v. Drake, 24 P.3d 1162 (Wyo. 2001):

The couple were married for three and a half years. During the marriage the husband’s net worth increased from $3.9 million to $4.9 million, primarily due to additional inheritance (from which he had received most of his net worth). The wife claimed error in that the trial court had not divided the property equitably. The husband claims that the trial court was fair, and that the wife should not receive any property that he brought into the marriage or inherited during the marriage. The supreme court agreed with the husband, finding that the wife had failed to prove that the trial court had abused its discretion.

Avery v. Avery, 2001 WL 775604 (Tenn. Ct. App. July 11, 2001):

“In this divorce case ending a 25 year marriage, the trial court classified a bequest made solely to the husband as marital property under an “implied partnership” theory and divided the bequest equally. The parties’ other property was divided, and the wife was awarded alimony in futuro. The husband appeals the classification and division of property and the award of alimony in futuro. We reverse the trial court’s classification of the bequest as marital property and classify the original bequest as Husband’s separate property. We find the increase in value of that separate property to be marital because of the parties’ contribution to its maintenance and increase. We modify the award of marital property accordingly, modify the alimony award, and decline to award Wife attorney fees on appeal.”

The total estate was approx. $3.95 million.

Lewis v. Frances, 2001 WL 219662 (Tenn. Ct. App. March 7, 2001):

“Husband appeals from the trial court’s decisions classifying, valuing, and dividing the parties’ property incident to their divorce and asserts that he is entitled to an award much greater than the $250,000 granted to him by the trial court. Wife also appeals the trial court’s classification and distribution of property, asserting that Husband was not entitled to any portion of her separate property and that there was no marital property.”

The wife was a partner in a successful management company for the recording industry. The premarital value of the wife’s separate assets was almost fifty times greater than the value of the husband’s premarital assets. During the marriage, both parties maintained separate checking and investment accounts, filed separate tax returns, and never held any property jointly.

The husband asserted that the value of the marital estate should be $7.1 million, primarily from the wife’s assets. The wife claimed that none of her assets should be considered marital property. The trial court found that the marital estate was the increase in the wife’s net worth during the marriage, or approx. $1.4 million. The court of appeals stated that the husband should receive none of the wife’s separate property, and that the trial court erred in its valuation of the marital estate. The husband should not receive any property from the marriage.

Blue v. Blue,60 S.W.3d 585 (Ky. Ct. App. 2001):

“By orders entered October 25, 1999, and November 10, 1999, the Jefferson Family Court upheld a premarital property agreement between David Blue and Pamela Blue. The trial court erred, Pamela contends, by failing to recognize that a large increase in the value of the property has rendered the agreement unconscionably favorable to David and hence unenforceable. Pamela further asserts that the trial court evaluated the agreement according to an incorrect standard of validity and failed to demand from David a sufficiently detailed statement of his holdings and net worth. Although we agree with Pamela that the trial court’s scrutiny of the agreement seems to have been unduly limited, we are persuaded that the error was harmless. Accordingly, we affirm.”

The husband was president of a scrap metal company, with a net worth of over $5 million. The wife’s estate was valued at $190,000.

Long v. Long, No. 2000702 (Ala. Civ. App. Dec. 21, 2001) (unreported):

“The wife filed a postjudgment motion, arguing that the trial court’s division of the parties’ marital estate, which was valued at over five million dollars, was inequitable. The husband filed a postjudgment motion, arguing, among other things, that the trial court had abused its discretion in awarding the wife over $2 million in marital assets and ordering him to pay $4,250 per month in periodic alimony. After hearing oral arguments, the trial court, on February 21, 2001, denied both postjudgment motions. The wife appeals, and the husband cross-appeals.“

“The wife argues, in part, that the trial court erred in awarding the husband 70% of the parties marital assets, which, she says, were accumulated during their 25-year marriage. She asserts that the trial court failed to consider the value of the husband’s stock in his company, Long Electronics, when it divided the marital assets. The husband argues that the trial court abused its discretion in awarding the wife a substantial portion of the marital assets, in ordering him to pay periodic alimony, and in awarding the wife what he says was an excessive attorney fee.”

The court of civil appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court.

Lowes v. Lowes, No. C6-01-146 (Minn. Ct. App. August 14, 2001) (unreported):

“After appellant Robert D. Lowes ceased paying spousal maintenance, respondent Victoria S. Lowes moved for arrearages she claimed were due under the terms of the parties’ stipulated dissolution judgment. The district court examined the terms of the parties’ 1992 stipulation and determined that it required appellant to pay spousal maintenance as long as his “cash compensation” exceeded $400,000 per year. The district court further concluded that because a $2.1 million lump sum payment that appellant received in July 1999 “represented” two years of salary, it qualified as cash compensation for 1999, 2000, and 2001. The district court thus ordered appellant to pay respondent $109,505 in past-due maintenance.”

“Appellant thereafter moved for ‘amended findings or alternatively for a new trial.’ Respondent opposed the motion, arguing that it was an improper motion for reconsideration, and sought attorney fees under Minn. Stat. 518.14, subd. 1 (2000). The district court issued a second order denying appellant’s motion in its entirety and awarding respondent $1,500 in conduct-based attorney fees.”

“Because the stipulation unambiguously requires appellant to pay spousal maintenance when his cash compensation exceeds $400,000 per year and because the district court did not err in finding that the $2.1 million falls within the definition of cash compensation, we affirm. We also affirm the award of $1,500 in conduct-based attorney fees as within the district court’s discretion.”

Gilfillin v. Gilfillin, 344 S.C. 407, 544 S.E.2d 829 (2001):

“James Gilfillin (“Husband”) was granted a divorce from his wife Melanie Gilfillin (“Wife”). Part of the family court’s order required Husband to establish a $300,000 alimony trust to secure periodic alimony payments to Wife in the event he predeceased her. Husband appealed and the Court of Appeals affirmed, but also modified the order so that Husband could meet his obligation by securing life insurance.”

“Husband and Wife were married for over fourteen years and had one child. During the marriage, Husband worked for his family’s insurance business while Wife primarily stayed at home and raised their son. Wife worked only occasionally as a substitute schoolteacher. Two years prior to their separation, Husband inherited a stock portfolio worth over $4.8 million and began taking steps to retire. Husband was 58 years old at the time of the divorce and Wife was 46 years old.”

“Under their equitable distribution settlement, Wife received marital assets valued at $121,395, including the marital home. Husband received $28,678 in marital assets and each party retained their respective non-marital assets. Among the non-marital assets Husband retained was his valuable stock portfolio.”

The supreme court held that the family court did not have the authority to establish the alimony trust, and so reversed.

In re Marriage of Watson, 22 P.3d 1081 (Kan. Ct. App. 2001):

“In this post-divorce proceeding, L.T. Watson (petitioner) appeals the district court’s interpretation of the separation agreement entered into by petitioner and her husband, T.S. Watson (respondent), during the pendency of their divorce. The court found the parties’ agreement as incorporated in the final decree was unambiguous and contemplated that the responsibility for any capital gains tax liability generated by the sale of certain stock in Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc., [which had increased the parties net worth by several million dollars] would be shared equally by the parties.... We affirm the trial court’s decision, although our analysis differs.”

Templeton v. Templeton, 2001 WL 1173340 (Ohio Ct. App. October 5, 2001):

The husband and the wife were divorced after twenty-five years of marriage in 1988. They owned substantial marital assets. The court divided their assets between the parties equally. The court also awarded the wife spousal support in the amount of $5,000 per month.

The husband was a doctor, with an income of $460,000. “The wife has a substantial income from the assets she was awarded in the divorce, which are now worth 2.7 million dollars. Ruth’s adjusted gross income in 1999 was $333,783. Of that, $42,187 was dividend income, $60,542 was from spousal that Gilbert paid, $7,572 was from interest and miscellaneous receipts, and $225,482 was from capital gains on her investments.”

The husband moved to have his spousal support obligation terminated or modified, citing the wife’s net worth.

The court of appeals remanded for further consideration of the wife’s assets.

Shaban v. Shaban, 88 Cal. App.4th 398, 105 Cal. Rptr.2d 863 (2001):

“Here, a couple who married in Egypt in 1974 had their marriage dissolved after living in the United States for about 17 years. In the course of the proceedings, the husband asserted that the couple had a written prenuptial agreement. The document that he claimed was the prenuptial agreement was a one-page piece of paper written in Arabic and signed by him and his future father-in-law at the time of the wedding. (The bride did not sign it; her father signed it as her “representative.”) The record contains three English translations of the document, and, with the exception of the recitation of a dowry arrangement, none of the translations sets forth any substantive matter. At trial, the husband attempted to introduce parol evidence in the form of an expert witness who was prepared to testify that certain language in the document signified an intention on the part of the husband and wife to have their marriage, including property relations at the time of any divorce, governed by “Islamic law.” The trial judge refused to allow the expert to testify, held there was no prenuptial agreement (he found the document was really a marriage “certificate”), and proceeded to apply California community property law to the earnings and acquisitions of the parties.”

“We affirm the property division set forth in the judgment. It is not that a document in a foreign language is not a fit subject for parol evidence. It obviously is. ... We affirm because the requirement that prenuptial agreements be in writing under California law is a statute of frauds provision, and to satisfy the statute of frauds, a writing must state with reasonable certainty what the terms and conditions of the contract are. An agreement whose only substantive term in any language is that the marriage has been made in accordance with “Islamic law” is hopelessly uncertain as to its terms and conditions. Had the trial judge allowed the expert to testify, the expert in effect would have written a contract for the parties.”

The marital estate was worth “some $3 million.”

Chambers v. Chambers, No. 2000011 (Ala. Civ. App. 12/21/2001) (unreported):

“The divorce judgment contained a property division awarding the wife, among other things, the marital home (which had been appraised at $195,000 in 1999), all of the personal property in the marital home at the time of the divorce, three automobiles, and $160,179 as alimony in gross (which the divorce judgment stated constituted one-half of the proceeds of a joint Merrill Lynch account, one-half of the funds in a SouthTrust Bank checking account in the husband’s name only, and one-half of a certificate of deposit at SouthTrust Bank in the husband’s name only (the “CD”)). The husband was awarded, among other things, a 1,040-acre farm, livestock (which included approximately 25 horses), and farm equipment; a car and a truck; his Prudential annuity (which was his retirement benefit from Eastern Airlines); one-half of the joint Merrill Lynch account; one-half of the certificate of deposit at SouthTrust Bank; and one-half of the SouthTrust checking account. The divorce judgment also awarded the husband his individual retirement account at Merrill Lynch (“Merrill Lynch IRA”) and specifically divested the wife of any interest in that IRA. The husband was ordered to continue paying to Merrill Lynch Credit the amount of the monthly mortgage-debt payment on the marital home (i.e., $816.67 per month) as an incident of support and periodic alimony.”

“The husband appeals, arguing that the CD was an individual retirement account and was his separate property so that it should not have been subject to division; that the CD no longer existed at the time of trial because, he says, it had been rolled over into his Merrill Lynch IRA; and that the trial court had inadvertently awarded some of his personal items to the wife. The wife cross-appeals, arguing that she received an inequitable share in the division of the marital property and that she should have been awarded more alimony.”

The court of appeals held “[b]ecause the evidence does not support the trial court’s finding that a CD existed at the time of the divorce, and the divorce judgment specifically divested the wife of any interest in the husband’s Merrill Lynch IRA, the investment vehicle to which the CD proceeds have been transferred, we must conclude that those portions of the divorce judgment addressing the division of marital property are inconsistent and ambiguous, and are therefore “palpably wrong.” We also reverse the judgment as to the alimony issue, so that the trial court will, on remand, have before it all matters concerning payments between the parties.”

Korthoff v. Korthoff, No. W2001-01712-COA-R10-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. September 24, 2001) (unreported):

“In this pending divorce action, the trial court ordered Husband to transfer $300,000.00 to Wife as a partial distribution of the marital estate. Husband filed an application for extraordinary appeal pursuant to Rule 10 Tenn. R. App. P. which this Court granted. Husband contends that the trial court is without authority to make a partial distribution of marital funds during the pendency of the divorce action.... Furthermore, if the court had such authority, it could not do so absent an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the property was marital or separate. The application was granted and the order of the trial court reversed.” [The husband had moved to South Africa and had transferred $27 million out of the country, according to the wife.]

Colonna v. Colonna, 2001 Pa. Super. 376, 788 A.2d 430 (2001):

The couple executed an antenuptial agreement in 1983 and divorced in 2000. The trial court found the agreement enforceable and ordered a division of the marital property according to the agreement. The husband argued that the agreement overvalued his business at the time of the divorce. The agreement stated that the value of the business was $6 million, but the husband claimed that this represented only the “average” of a low of $2 million and a high of $13 million. The wife claimed that this overvaluation renders the entire agreement unenforceable. The court found that the valuation was reasonable and had full and fair disclosure. It found no harm and no error.

Hasselbalch v. Hasselbalch, 2002 WL 188826 (Tex. Ct. App. February 7, 2002):

“The appellant, Constance G. Hasselbalch, appeals from the decree granting her a divorce from the appellee, Michael Hasselbalch. Constance raises several issues on appeal, contesting the trial court’s procedural rulings and evidentiary findings, following a bench trial. Specifically, Constance contends the trial court erred in: (1) denying her motion for continuance; (2) quashing her trial subpoena of an attorney for another party; (3) excluding the testimony of her expert witness; (4) admitting the testimony of two of Michael’s expert witnesses; (5) limiting her redirect examination of a fact witness; (6) finding that she did not seek enforcement of a corporate shareholder agreement; (7) awarding certain separate property to Michael; (8) finding the evidence insufficient to establish the existence of an inheritance [of $10 million] to Michael; (9) awarding her attorney’s fees of only $22,000; (10) making an implicit finding that no delayed limited partnership distributions existed; (11) finding that Michael had not given away 17% of his ownership in a closely held corporation; and (12) finding the community estate had no ownership in a company known as Lambert International, Ltd.... We affirm.”

Schottenstein v. Schottenstein, 2001 WL 1651938 (Ohio Ct. App. November 29, 2001):

“We find no abuse of discretion or error of law with respect to the division of marital property. The primary issue regarding division of property dealt with a possible division of stock in M/I Homes which appreciated over $10 million in value during the term of the marriage. The trial court adequately and accurately set forth its analysis of the issue and its rationale underlying its determination why this stock was not marital property. As we concur with the trial court’s rulings as to these issues, we do not feel compelled to restate the same analysis here.”

Thomas v. Thomas, 2001 WL 422967 (Ohio Ct. App. April 26, 2001):

“On September 25, 1995, the court commenced a contested trial, during which the parties litigated the issues of property division and spousal support. In a judgment entry and decree of divorce filed on June 28, 1996, the trial court granted both parties a divorce, awarded the plaintiff liquid assets valued at $1,580,048.50, awarded defendant liquid assets valued at $1,223,030.50, and ordered plaintiff to pay the defendant $10,000 per month in permanent spousal support. The court also separately awarded the defendant the sum of $622,816.50 to be disbursed from the plaintiff’s pension and profit sharing plan. While the trial court’s judgment and decree was not appealed by the defendant, plaintiff filed a timely notice of appeal on July 26, 1996.”

“In an opinion released on May 13, 1997, this court sustained two of the plaintiff’s assignments of error, finding: A review of the trial court’s decision demonstrates that the trial court failed to address the fact that [the defendant] was awarded a significant property settlement of approximately 1.2 million dollars. Clearly, a significant percentage of this property settlement was liquid assets which were available to [the defendant], and upon which investment income was available and expected.”

McMahon v. McMahon, 187 Misc.2d 364, 722 N.Y.S.2d 723 (2001):

“The gravamen of the dispute between the parties, on these motions, is whether the commencement date of a prior action of divorce should be utilized in determining whether property is “marital” or “separate” for equitable distribution purposes. The resolution of this dispute is crucial because after the commencement of the first action for divorce, but before the commencement of the second action for divorce, husband received a substantial financial benefit from his employment in connection with an Initial Public Offering (IPO). The IPO benefits are worth some 30 million dollars. If the commencement date of the first action for divorce is the proper date for determining marital assets then, by statute, the IPO is husband’s separate property. If, however, the court utilizes the commencement date of this action, then the IPO benefits are, by statutory definition, marital property.”

The supreme court held that the commencement date of the first action was not appropriate, and thus the IPO benefits were marital property.

Ex parte Durbin, 2001 WL 1392684 (Ala. September 7, 2001):

The couple married in 1982, separated in 1997, and divorced in 1999. The wife did not work outside the home. The husband was the chief executive officer and 80% majority shareholder of Marshall Durbin Food Corporation. In the division of marital property the husband was awarded approx. 80% of the marital estate, or $9 million, while the wife received approx. 20% of the marital estate, or $2 million. The court had awarded the wife half of a particular stock that had been acquired during the marriage and did not consider the stock that had been acquired before the marriage. The court of civil appeals reversed and instructed the trial court to consider all of the stock as marital property when it reconsidered its division of the marital property. The supreme court reversed the court of civil appeals, holding the court should not consider all the stock as marital property.

Erickson v. Erickson, 2001 WL 100332 (Ark. Ct. App. February 7, 2001):

The husband was a regional vice-president for Wal-Mart; the wife was a homemaker. The husband filed for divorce in 1999, stating that the couple had lived separate and apart for eighteen months. The chancellor each party fifty percent of their marital assets, which had a value over $4 million. The chancellor found that appellee’s interest in Wal-Mart stock options that could not yet be exercised were not marital property but compensated appellant with an award of alimony.

The wife claimed error in failing to award the stock options. The court disagreed with her claim.

Hackney v. Hackney, 794 So. 2d 1159 (Ala. Civ. App. 2001):

“The parties married in June 1983 and lived together until October 1998. At the time of the marriage, the husband and wife were both employed in the healthcare field. The wife testified that following the birth of their first child in 1985, she resigned her position in healthcare administration and became a housewife. She stated that for the first few years of their marriage, she assisted her husband in establishing a medical-supply company. She stated that she has been the primary caregiver for the parties’ four children, including the youngest child, who was born with severe birth defects and has special needs. Regarding the marital assets, the wife stated that her husband had started numerous business ventures during the marriage, including healthcare services, a cattle operation, farming, and developing real estate; and that he had controlled all of the parties’ financial decisions. She stated that they argued about the marital assets because he would not include her in any of the decision-making.”

“Regarding the property division, the husband testified that before the marriage he had acquired some property located near to, or adjoining, his family’s property. However, there was uncontradicted testimony that each of the properties awarded to the wife was purchased during the marriage. ... Accordingly, the trial court did not err in awarding the wife real property that was titled only in the husband’s name.”

Fox v. Fox, No. 01AP-83 (Ohio App. Dist.10 04/25/2002):

Question addressed was classification of millions of shares of a corporation, worth over $3,000,000. Relying on an antenuptial agreement and principles concerning separate property, court held shares were separate. The later acquired stock options, however, were marital.

Medlock v. Medlock, 263 Neb. 666, 642 N.W.2d 113 (Neb. 04/12/2002):

Question presented was whether the wife could pierce the corporate veil and assert the close corporation, worth millions, as the husband’s alter ego.

Millstein v. Millstein, 2002 -Ohio- 4783 (Ohio App. Dist.8 09/12/2002):

Husband’s separate property, worth $128 million, protected by prenuptial agreement. Wife entitled to only 1% of what otherwise would be marital property.

In re Marriage of McGuire, No. B144802 (Cal. App. Dist.2 08/01/2002):

Trial court erred in terminating the 707 Partnership without winding up the partnership business, including valuing the community contribution to the 707 Partnership; case remanded for further proceedings on that issue. Estate worth $20 million ($56 million distributed during the marriage).

Teller v. Teller, No. 22440 (Haw. 08/30/2002):

Court found that $1,058,945 of the approximately $3 million earned in the sale of business was equally divided between pre-marital intellectual property and post-marital property.

Eliz v. Eliz, No. 05-01-00085-CV (Tex. App. Dist.5 08/19/2002):

Husband’s cardiology practice worth $4.3 million, other assets worth $2 million. Case remanded on distribution, because trial court improperly awarded wife the husband’s future earnings.

Pillet v. Kendrick, No. A095615 (Cal. App. Dist.1 05/06/2002):

Issue was fraudulent transfer of millions in marital assets.

In re Marriage of Kirkpatrick, No. 2-00-1411 ( 04/18/2002):

Petitioner’s estate worth $12 million. Distribution of estate not discussed. (Issue was divorce on grounds of cruelty.)

In re Marriage of Gray, No. C038565 (Cal. App. Dist.3 11/19/2002):

Marital estate worth over $3 million. Wife appealed on grounds trial court failed to file a statement of decision. Appeal denied, because wife failed to show division was not equal.

Redd v. Redd, No. 2001-CA-00992-COA (Miss. App. 10/22/2002):

Marital estate worth $5 million. Wife received 23% on distribution, she appealed. Affirmed, after considering factors in statute.

For more reading on “the big case,” see the latest issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

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