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AgreementsHusband’s Transfer of Separate Property to Wife Declared Wife’s Separate Property

October 9, 2007

Thank you to the Prenuptial Agreement Blog for including me in the list of Top Family Law Blogs.

Speaking of prenuptial agreements, a couple of cases addressing prenuptial agreements have been decided by the Appellate Division in recent weeks. Thus, I begin a series of postings addressing these cases.

In the recent case of Selinger v. Selinger, the parties entered into a prenuptial agreement, in which they agreed “to waive any rights in and to the other’s separate property, including gifts of land to the other as long as the gift was either evidenced in writing or "such records or the title of the donated property must have been changed into the name of the donee party."

During the course of the marriage, the parties sold a home that husband solely owned prior to the marriage, and purchased a house in Long Island with legal title to that house being placed solely in wife’s name. When the home was sold, the sale proceeds, $3.4 million dollars were deposited in the wife’s separate bank account.

The Court ruled that the proceeds were the wife’s separate property.  “By deeding the house to defendant, plaintiff memorialized in writing a gift to his wife pursuant to the clear terms of the prenuptial agreement. . .”

The opinion hints that there was another, but unenforceable agreement executed between the parties, which I bet, obligated the wife to transfer the property or its proceeds back to the husband in the event of divorce.

There certainly was something improper going on that was not directly addressed in the opinion. I am guessing that the transfer to the wife was an attempt to protect the property from the creditors of the husband.

In any event, this case serves as a lesson that a prenuptial agreement will be upheld, even if it results in a wind-fall for one of the parties.

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