Monday, November 9, 2009
Experts, Specific Values and "Financial Misconduct" in Divorce Cases
The Cuyahoga County Court of Appeals has just recently reaffirmed that when a domestic relations court is faced with two values for a business, one provided by the husband and the other provided by the wife, the Court is permitted to exercise its "discretion" to determine which value, based upon the evidence, is proper. This discretion is a powerful right possessed by the domestic relations court, but there must be credible and objective evidence and reasoning presented to the Court in support of the value. In the case of Haynes v. Haynes, 2009 Ohio 5360, the Court also sent the case back to the domestic relations court to obtain specific values of the parties property so that the Court could mathematically divide all of the property as equally as possible. For some reason, the parties did not present (and the trial court magistrate did not require) specific values for important pieces of property that had to be divided by the court. Ohio law requires that a domestic relations court do its best to divide up all of the marital property equally - and obtaining values for all of the relevant property is absolutely necessary to obtain an equal division. The Court also held that the trial court was correct in holding that using business funds to pay for gambling debts was "financial misconduct," and that the gambling spouse could lose a portion of their half of the marital estate for such conduct. Ohio divorce law holds that if one spouse engages in "financial misconduct," the court can penalize that spouse by taking away a portion of the marital estate and giving it to the other spouse.