Prominent Appellate Decisions

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Ayoub v Ayoub, 63 A.D.3d 493 (1st Dep’t 2009), lv dsmd, 41 N.Y.3d 921 (2010)

In this appeal, we secured for our client affirmance of the trial court’s pendente lite maintenance and support award of approximately $30,000 per month. Our client’s spouse was sole owner of a business that generated approximately $22 million in annual revenues, and the marital residence was a six-story townhouse on East 70th Street in Manhattan, which was worth approximately $10 million. The appeal presented the novel issue under New York law of the degree to which the trial court must investigate and particularize and analyze the facts and circumstances in writing prior to issuing a pendente lite maintenance and support award. The appellate court accepted our argument that any requirement for a highly exacting inquiry would violate public policy by unnecessarily prolonging the divorce process and delay the ability of the parties to return to normal lives as promptly as possible, especially in cases involving young children. Leave to appeal this significant issue to the New York Court of Appeals, New York’s highest appellate court, was granted, but the appeal was ultimately dismissed as moot when the parties settled.

Cohen v Cohen, 93 A.D.3d 506 (1st Dep’t 2012)
In this case, we upheld on appeal the trial court’s determination of the validity of our client’s French prenuptial agreement against challenge based upon alleged fraud, duress, overreaching and unconscionability. The decision preserved our client’s extensive estate from exposure to any claims for equitable distribution. The appeal presented novel legal questions in New York, as the agreement was prepared by and executed before a French notaire, an independent public official unaligned with either party, in accordance with the dictates of French law, custom and practice, which vary materially from New York law. The appeal also presented the unique issue of whether the French notaire’s acknowledgement of the agreement complied with New York’s strict statutory party acknowledgment requirement.

Cooper v Cooper, 52 A.D.3d 429 (1st Dep’t 2008)

This was an appeal from a lengthy trial in which our client was accused of dissipating marital assets by, among other things, refraining from making mortgage payments on marital real estate by using those assets’ line of credit. The appellate court accepted our contention that these assets were already heavily burdened with debt and that taking on additional debt when there ultimately were insufficient resources to prevent foreclosure would have itself constituted irrational dissipation of marital assets. The appellate court also adopted our contention that when proceeds of a mortgage on a spouse’s separately owned realty is used to maintain the family lifestyle rather than improve the realty, the mortgage proceeds, repaid with marital funds, are to be deemed a loan from the separate property to the marital estate, which does not convert the property into marital property subject to equitable distribution.

Talero v Talero, 1 A.D.3d 522 (2nd Dep’t 2003)

In this child support proceeding, our client’s spouse was determined after trial to have materially underreported his income in his tax returns, and the appellate court affirmed the Family Court’s determination, applying our contention that a court need not accept a party’s own self-serving financial accounting but may impute higher amounts of income based upon that party’s prior income or demonstrated earning potential.