A Manhattan judge properly imputed income in a divorce to an Ivy League-educated wife who stopped full-time lawyering in 1999, since she maintained her law license, engaged in professional activities and did consulting work, an appeals court has ruled.
A unanimous Appellate Division, First Department, panel indicated that the wife and mother of two children, both born in the 1990s, was earning less than she previously had been without good reason and thus income should be imputed to her when determining the husband’s maintenance, or alimony, payments and her share of child support.
Prior to divorce proceedings, the panel noted, the wife was accepted to Cornell’s Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution and was appointed as an arbitrator for the United Federation of Teachers and New York City Department of Education § 3020-a Hearing Panel. In addition, she rendered a 90-page arbitration decision upheld by a state Supreme Court.
In a unanimous opinion, Justices John Sweeny, Angela Mazzarelli, Karla Moskowitz, Sallie Manzanet-Daniels and Barbara Kapnick affirmed the 2015 judgment of Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Ellen Gesmer. Gesmer presided over a 21-day nonjury financial trial in which she found the couples’ nonretirement assets “had precipitously declined by approximately $1.6 million,” due to the wife’s “lavish spending” after the divorce filing and the parties’ legal fees.
The wife and husband were not named in the June 22 decision in R.S. v. B.L., 350001/12.
The justices affirmed Gesmer on each point discussed while detailing numerous rulings including distribution of nonretirement assets and retirement assets and allocation of children’s college costs. Gesmer had awarded declining maintenance to the wife, at $35,000 per month. For child support she capped combined parental income at $350,000.
Annette Hasapidis, a White Plains lawyer, represented the wife and did not return a call, nor did Robert Cohen of Cohen Clair Lans Greifer Thorpe & Rottenstreich, representing the husband.