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This past June marked 10 years since Fields v. Fields, 15 N.Y.3d 158 (2010)—a Court of Appeals ruling that left the New York matrimonial bar scratching its collective head (the ruling). Indeed, practitioners continue to wonder how someone who had done little more than “sweep the stoop” of a multi-unit Manhattan townhouse, purchased by her husband through an LLC with funds borrowed from his mother, landed a windfall when the townhouse was deemed marital property during the parties’ divorce.

Background

The facts of the case are worthy of review, in concert with Justice Robert Smith’s scathing dissent to the ruling, and the First Department order that precipitated the ruling (65 A.D.3d 297 [1st Dept. 2009]), all of which provide valuable insight into the factual realities that underscored this baffling outcome.

The Fields court based the ruling on four main factors:

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