# HELOC

Please indulge me; it’s one of my pet issues. And I apologize in advance for what may be my most boring blog post to date.

Writing math narratively is very difficult. When drafting a divorce settlement agreement, I try to include examples whenever formulas are written out. When reading decisions, I often draw a flow chart to help me follow the calculations.

Calculations done by the court establish rules of law. When an appellate court does it, that’s the way it’s going to be done in all cases like that in the future. All the more reason that the reader be able to follow and understand the calculations made by the court. For each calculation, you need to know how much went from where to where and why.

Sometimes, I can’t follow those calculations made by the court. Take the February 26, 2020 decision of the Second Department in Alliger-Bograd v. Bograd. The Court modified the equitable distribution credits awarded by retired Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Carol MacKenzie; reducing from \$81,829.15 to \$23,350.00 the amount to be paid by a husband to the wife, in addition to the wife acquiring the husband’s interest in the marital residence.

I am not sure whether the decision provides all the numbers used to get to the final result. The marital residence being acquired by the wife was worth \$545,000.00 There was a mortgage and a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) that totaled \$321,000.00. At first look, there was \$224,000.00 in equity.

It’s one of my pet topics. How do you provide — how do you write a provision awarding one spouse credit for paying down the mortgage principal while a divorce action is pending or thereafter?

Consider the August 29, 2018 decision of the Appellate Division, Second Department, in Westbrook v. Westbrook.

In April 2008, the wife commenced this action for a divorce and ancillary relief. In a pendente lite order, the Supreme Court, inter alia, directed the husband to pay temporary child support in the sum of \$150 per week. The court also directed the husband to pay a majority of the carrying charges on the marital residence, which included a first mortgage on the two-thirds share of the value of the marital residence that had been purchased from the husband’s siblings, as well as a home equity line of credit (hereinafter HELOC) that was secured by the marital residence.

On or about November 24, 2009, the parties executed a stipulation agreeing, inter alia, that the husband would have exclusive use and occupancy of the marital residence effective December 1, 2009, and that the husband would pay child support to the wife in the sum of \$350 per week commencing on December 1, 2009. Thereafter, the wife moved, inter alia, to increase the husband’s temporary child support obligation. In a pendente lite order dated May 21, 2010, the Supreme Court directed the husband to pay \$700 per week in temporary child support during the pendency of the action.

Following the trial, as is here relevant, Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Marlene L. Budd declined to award the husband a credit for the payments made by him during the pendency of the action to reduce the principal balances of the first mortgage and the HELOC. In addition, the court directed that the marital residence be listed for sale, and that the husband make the payments towards the first mortgage and the HELOC if he continued to reside in the marital residence until the residence was sold.

Dealing with the appreciation in value during the marriage of a marital home owned by one spouse before the marriage has been, perhaps, the most troublesome area of New York’s Equitable Distribution Law. Inconsistencies in decisions abound. The entire area may have been turned on its head in 2010 by the Court of Appeals in