Tammy L. Sheehan v. Lawrence F. Sheehan (App Div., 2nd Dep’t)

Plaintiff (hereafter “the wife”) and the defendant (hereafter “the husband”) were married in July 2000 and have two children.

The husband owned a business comprised of a gas station and an auto repair center. The wife worked part-time for the husband’s business as a bookkeeper and was the primary caregiver for the children. Each party retained experts who provided an opinion as to the value of the husband’s business and determined the appreciation of the business during the parties’ marriage. After finding that the husband’s expert relied on financial information that was not made available to the wife’s expert, the Supreme Court granted a motion to partially preclude the husband’s expert’s testimony. As the husband did not comply with certain discovery obligations, the Supreme Court did not err in partially precluding the husband’s expert.

The wife’s expert, using income based and asset based valuation methods, determined the husband’s business appreciated $768,602.50 over the course of the parties’ marriage. Based on the wife’s direct contributions to the business, as well as her indirect contributions as a homemaker and primary caregiver for the parties’ children in the long-term marriage, the Supreme Court awarded the wife 26% of the appreciation, or $199,836.65.

The husband also had debt separate from the marriage. The wife requested a credit for an equitable share of funds used by the husband to pay his separate debt during the marriage. The Supreme Court found that the evidence was credible in establishing that the payments made by the husband toward his separate debt during the marriage were made with separate funds. Accordingly, the Supreme Court correctly did not award the wife any credit for these debt payments.