JOHNSTON v. NAKIS (Monroe Supreme Court)

The parties dispute the status of Plaintiff-wife’s individually titled Cantella bank account in which wife concedes that joint tax refunds were deposited into the account during the marriage in 2004 and in 2009.  Aside from those two deposits, the Cantella account was comprised of wife’s separate property including pre-marital savings, gifts from her father, and inheritance.  While the husband argues that the deposit of the joint tax refunds into the Cantella account constituted comingling of marital funds with wife’s separate funds, the court disagrees.

The court held that joint tax refunds generally are “regarded as separate property of which each party is entitled to a pro rata share.” Therefore, because the husband also admitted that the account was largely separate property of the wife, the separate property and any appreciation during the marriage due to market forces was deemed separate.