CARVALHO v. CARVALHO (App Div. 3rd Dep’t)

In distributing the parties’ marital assets, the Supreme Court found that division of the assets should be equal but that the wife had transferred/spent $103,000 of marital assets without compensating the husband-defendant.  The Supreme Court thereby increased husband’s distribution by one half of the $103,000 and reduced the wife’s distribution by the same amount to which the wife appeals.

While the wife did not deny that she spent/transferred $103,000, she claims that because she did not wastefully dissipate the monies, her distributive amount should not be diminished in favor of the husband.  When the “marital assets have been spent on legitimate household or living expenses, they are not included in the equitable distribution calculus.”  Here, the Appellate Court holds that the record confirms that there is insufficient evidence to support a finding that the entire $103,000 was wastefully dissipated. This matter was remitted to the Supreme Court but first, it held that $60,000 had been spent on household expenses (i.e. school taxes, insurance premiums, bills, household/living expenses).  Therefore, any deductions from wife’s half of the property distribution would only be calculated based upon the remaining $43,000 which the court found to be wastefully dissipated as the monies were used for items such as a landscaping projects at the wife’s own residence and for the purchase of a new, but unnecessary, car.