Monday, November 25, 2013

O’Brien v. O’Brien case brief

O’Brien v. O’Brien case brief summary
489 N.E.2d 712 (N.Y. 1985)

Defendant appealed the decision of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the Second Judicial Department (New York), which reversed the trial court's holding that plaintiff's license to practice medicine was a marital asset in a divorce case.

Plaintiff and defendant divorced after being married over nine years, during which time plaintiff attended medical school and received a license to practice medicine, which was the only asset the parties had at time of the filing of their divorce. Defendant worked while plaintiff took full-time medical school classes; defendant's salary contributed to the couple's expenses during this time.

The court held that according to the Equitable Distribution Law,N.Y. Dom. Rel. Law § 236(B)(c), (d), there were only two types of property, marital and separate, and the court held that the medical license was a valuable property right and part of the marital estate.

The decision that a medical license was not a marital asset was reversed because the statute stated that marital assets were either separate or marital assets and a license to practice medicine acquired during the marriage was an asset as considered by the statute.

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