Property Agreements: Make Sure You Mean It

As one New York man found out recently, it is important to stick to agreements made during divorce. 

New York follows a rule of equitable distribution when weighing division of assets and property during a divorce. When couples come to agreements through negotiation or mediation, the court need not be involved. This case springs from an agreement willingly entered into by both parties. 

Elie and Susan Hirschfield entered into a Modification Agreement concerning property they divided during their divorce. Part of the agreement concerns the possession and use of an East Hampton residence. The Agreement grants Ms. Hirschfield “exclusive use and possession of the East Hampton Residence . . . until September 30, 2017 or her earlier remarriage or cohabitation with an unrelated male.” 

Mr. Hirschfield sought a ruling that interpreted the language to mean Ms. Hirschfield was entitled only to summer possession or summer rental income. 

The matter was originally heard before the Supreme Court, New York County. In that venue, the court found the following: 

  • Ms. Hirschfield was owed damages of $475,000 per year from 2009 through 2011, less payments already made.
  • Payment of $475,000 was to be made to Ms. Hirschfield for 2012.
  • Ms. Hirschfield was awarded prejudgment interest of three percent. 

The Appellate Division, First Department unanimously affirmed the findings of the earlier court. 

Property and other agreements made during divorce impact the future. In this case, one party sought to reinterpret straightforward language for financial benefit. 

When you are working through the division of assets during a divorce, seek skilled legal counsel to protect your position down the line. Call me at Bryan L. Salamone and Associates, P.C. to talk about your case.

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