Hurricane Sandy affects divorce proceeding, or does it?

February 11, 2013 By Charisma Miller, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Already engaged in a contentious divorce proceeding, the October 2012 Superstorm Sandy that rocked New York added more complications for husband O.R. and his estranged wife J.R.

Acting Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Rachel Adams refused to release $100,000 in martial funds for the repair of a jointly owned property that was damaged by Sandy.

Filing for divorce in 2010, the parties have battled every step of the way Adams noted in her ruling.  In November 2012, the husband, who maintained exclusive use of the home in Breezy Point, Queens, submitted to the court “that as a result of Hurricane Sandy, the residence sustained significant damage, rendering the home uninhabitable,” and therefore required approximately $100,000 for the needed repairs.  

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The wife disagreed, arguing that her estranged husband should be forced to borrow money for any needed repairs. Besides, the wife contended, the husband had already been approved for approximately $19,557.79 in real property funding from FEMA and received $5,434 as a shelter allowance.

The husbands failure to disclose the accurate amount received by FEMA and the fact that the requested repairs to the home appeared more for the husband’s benefit than the pure need to make the home habitable, Adams denied the husband’s request for the release of marital funds.

“While the Husband acknowledges that the Breezy residence is marital property and asks that significant marital funds be accessed to make repairs, his unilateral actions since the storm have established that the Husband ultimately views the loss to Breezy as personal only to him,” wrote Adams.

“The Court is also mindful that the [Husband’s] estimates … indicate more than an intention to make the property habitable,” Adams said of the $17,000 requested for interior decorating and  $20,000 for counter top and cabinetry restoration.

Therefore, Adams concluded, the parties are to “utilize FEMA funds and any additional loan monies for which they may qualify to make necessary repairs to make the property habitable.”

The husband’s Manhattan attorney, Brian Perskin, told the New York Law Journal that his client did not withhold information from the court regarding the FEMA monies Instead, Perskin said, when his client filed his request for the release of the marital monies “he didn’t have the FEMA funds.”

Brooklyn attorney RoseAnn Branda is representing the wife in these proceedings. Branda told the NYLJ “throughout the course of the proceedings [the husband] kept trying to dissipate the marital estate … instead of paying for repairs out of his own income he’s trying to invade the marital account to resurrect the house.”

Branda, a former president of the Brooklyn Bar Association agrees with 100 percent with Adams’ decision.

The parties have already resolved all custody and parental access issues.

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