A New York Ruling Could Keep Wealthy Couples from Shopping for Divorce Court Judges

New York RulingA recent ruling from an appellate court may put an end to the long-standing habit of "forum shopping" in divorce matters.

It's become common practice in New York for wealthy people seeking divorce to file the paperwork in a smaller, more rural county. The purported advantage for the spouse is that their case will be heard by a more conservative judge who is more likely to take the side of the wealthier partner.

Moreover, bringing a big-money divorce case to a smaller county court can make things more complicated for the less-wealthy spouse. While the well-to-do spouse can take a private helicopter or airplane to the divorce court, their ex-partner may have to scramble for a ride-share service to make an appearance.

The ploy is meant to disorient the poorer partner, leaving them less able to protect their legal rights.


How Can You File for Divorce in Another County?

It is not uncommon for wealthy couples to own more than one home. Usually, one of these homes is considered a permanent address, like an apartment in Central Park. They also may own a vacation home in another area, with Suffolk County being a popular choice.

Knowing that a Suffolk County divorce court has fewer resources and less experience with high net-worth wealthy couples, the richer spouse hopes to overawe the court system and their soon-to-be former spouse.

Thus, they claim that their Suffolk County vacation home is actually their permanent address. This means that filing for divorce in that county would be appropriate.

Unfortunately, sometimes the wealthy spouse who files for divorce in another county is fudging their residency.


The Appellate Ruling

Attorney Peter Bronstein won a case in which a real estate developer filed for divorce in Suffolk County even though he and his wife largely lived at their Manhattan apartment rather than their vacation home in Suffolk County. Bronstein represented the wife in the divorce case, and he successfully appealed to have the divorce case brought to its rightful divorce court in Manhattan.

Bronstein says that the decision removes unfair leverage from the wealthier spouse. Many other family law attorneys in New York hailed the decision as a win for ensuring that divorce cases are heard in their proper venues.

Nevertheless, whether your case can properly be filed in a county of your choosing or not is dependent on many factors and it is important to consult with an attorney who can advise you in your specific situation.

If you are considering a divorce, contact the Sabra Law Group at (646) 472-7971 to learn about what’s your next step toward dissolving your marriage.











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