In last month’s decision in Lowe v. Lowe, the Third Department upheld subtracting one half of the amount spent by a wife on TV home shopping from her distributive award.
The parties had married in 2005 and had no children together. In February 2012, the husband commenced this action for divorce. Following the non-jury trial, Tompkins County Supreme Court Justice Phillip R. Rumsey ordered the distribution of the marital property, including several bank and investment accounts and the marital residence. The court also ordered that the husband pay the wife $23,000 in counsel fees, as well as $3,000 per month in spousal maintenance for approximately 2 1/2 years. The husband appealed and the wife cross-appealed.
The Third Department upheld Justice Rumsey’s award to the wife of 50% of the appreciation of the husband’s separate property investment portfolio, 401(k), pension and residence. However, offsetting what may have been that very generous percentage of separate property appreciation [comment: no part being attributed to market forces] was Justice Rumsey’s decision to subtract from the wife’s distributive award one half of the total amount the wife spent during the marriage on television home shopping.
The Third Department agreed. The almost $32,000 the wife spent over this seven-year marriage was a wasteful dissipation of marital assets.
It is undisputed that, during the course of the marriage, the wife developed a shopping problem and, despite the husband’s effort to stop her, bought over $30,000 worth of items from television shopping channels. Thus, we find no abuse of Supreme Court’s considerable discretion in reducing the wife’s award by one half of the amount dissipated, or $15,955.