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New Domestic Relations Law Protects Smart Women in 2016

In 1985 the New York Court of Appeals started a case called “O’Brien v. O’Brien” this case has a “progeny” of cases that further define it and solidify it. The case stands for the proposition that “an interest in an professional career is marital property which can be represented by direct or indirect contribution (even non-financial contributions) of a spouse. The enhanced earning capacity arising from a license or degree is the intangible property which could be divided in a divorce. Quite simply, doctors, lawyers, registered nurses, and licensed professional who obtained their licenses during marriage were then subject to having their lifetime enhanced capacity valued and distributed as if it was property to the spouse that stood by them while they got their degree or license.

In New York we have a plethora of smart women. In fact, in Manhattan there are 38% more young female college graduates than male and, women have been graduating from college in New York in 30 plus percent for years. There are now 4 women for every 3 men nationally in the marriage-age, college-educated dating market. In fact, the percentages highest in Manhattan were New York University boasts 61% female undergraduate degrees with 39% male.

Clearly O’Brien and it’s progenies were contemplating more judicial homemaker duties and child rearing duties a male spouse obtaining the degree. Now that female have been obtaining their degrees at a higher rate (advanced degrees) than their male spouses, the Law has caught up with this fact and no longer (as of January 23, 2016) would use the obtainment of a degree or a professional license as marital property to be divided in a divorce. This is great news for smart women who have furthered themselves during marriage. Unfortunately, there is a catch: The income that one received as a result of a degree or license can be used for the gender neutral alimony laws if the person who holds the license is making more than their partner, chances they will pay maintenance. Furthermore, child support will always take money from a non-custodial spouse and give it to the custodial spouse.

After 19,000 in 20 years of practice we have seen it all and we have seen how these trends in the law help and hurt our client’s and we are prepared to reap benefits for our client and shield other client’s from any possible exposure. We offer free consultations on selective matters. Contact our office at (631) 424-3597 or contact us online.

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