Friday, October 30, 2015
SOME INTERESTING MATRIMONIAL DECISIONS - PROVING COMINGINGLED PROPERTY IS SEPARATE PROPERTY
Terasaka v. Terasaka, 130 A.D.3d 1474, 13 N.Y.S.3d 740 (Fourth Dept. 2015):
"We reject defendant's contention that Supreme Court erred in determining that the disputed trust account, funded with plaintiff's premarital property and property acquired by gift or inheritance, was plaintiff's separate property. It is well settled that separate property that is " ‘commingled with marital property or is subsequently titled in the joint names of the spouses is presumed to be marital property’ " (Gately v. Gately, 113 AD3d 1093, 1094, lv dismissed 23 NY3d 1048), and that "[t]he party seeking a finding of separate property has the burden of rebutting that presumption" (id.). Here, the uncontroverted evidence at trial "trace[d] the source of the [commingled] funds ... with sufficient particularity to rebut the presumption that they were marital property" (id. at 1903 [internal quotation marks omitted]). Defendant stipulated to the introduction in evidence of the forensic accounting report prepared by plaintiff's accountant "subject to whatever legal arguments either party may advance" regarding certain aspects of the report. Furthermore, plaintiff's accountant was the only expert witness who testified regarding the report and the ability to distinguish plaintiff's separate property from the parties' marital property even after they were commingled. Plaintiff also rebutted the presumption that the commingled separate property is now marital property by establishing that her transfer of her separate funds into a marital checking account for 95 days was merely a convenient means of transferring her separate funds into her trust account (see Noble v. Noble, 78 AD3d 1386, 1389). Furthermore, the marital checking account in which the funds at issue were commingled was held only in plaintiff's name (see Chamberlain v. Chamberlain, 24 AD3d 589, 593)."