Among the challenges for the matrimonial bench and bar is the need to become instantly familiar with any type of business and any family situation. Applying the ever-changing New York family law to matters routine and novel is a Herculean task, worthy of Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson’s IMAX 3D movie opening this weekend.
New York’s cosmopolitan population often presents still another layer of law and fact through which our judges must navigate. Four decisions this month reveal the breadth and complexity of those international issues.
In a July 21, 2014 decision in J.R. v. E.M., New York County Supreme Court Justice Ellen Gesmer decided to apply New York law to set aside a marital agreement for its failure to meet New York formalities, although the procedure followed in the Spanish Consulate where it was signed may have been far better able to achieve the goals New York’s formalities were designed to achieve.
On March 3, 2004, the day after they were married in New York City, the parties signed a “Matrimonial Property Agreement” before the Spanish Consul at the Consulate in New York City.
The wife is a Peruvian citizen; her husband is a Spanish citizen. Justice Gesmer noted that both parties are well-educated and accomplished native Spanish-speaking professionals, both currently employed by the United Nations.
After commencing her divorce action in 2013, the wife moved to set aside the marital agreement. She claimed that although the Agreement had been drafted before the parties went to the Consulate, she did not first see it until arriving at the Consulate on March 3, 2004.