My wife and I separated and divorced about 12 years ago (uncontested). While married, we purchased a co-op apartment in Brooklyn, N.Y. After moving into the apartment for about two years, she moved out taking our two small children with her (paying child support), She was having an affair. I remained in the apartment, assuming all financial responsibilities. About a year ago, I moved to Connecticut for job purposes since I lost my job in New York City. I decided to sell my apartment and found a buyer willing to pay me a considerable amount. My former wife never expressed any interest in the property, never paid towards the mortgage or maintenance, or any upkeep. I informed her that I would need her to approve the sale since her name is still on the documents. While I was looking for a buyer, she never expressed her opinion, never said she would not sign, and so on. Suddenly she gets an attorney who is demanding 50% of the net proceeds. I am about to lose the buyers because of her actions. I offered her $25,000 she is demanding at least $50,000, half of the net sale price. I am hoping I can still sell the apartment and then sue her for her share of the costs, which is about $55,000. In summary, she lived in the apartment for about two years, after she moved out in 1990 she never made any payments for 13 years. Please any advice that you can give me would be much appreciated. Thank You
If a competent and experienced attorney correctly drafted your Separation Agreement, you should have a provision in it which discusses the ownership rights to the apartment, and when and if it is sold, how the proceeds will be divided. By maintaining her name on the ownership of such apartment, she has a legal right to half of the proceeds upon the sale, unless otherwise agreed in the Separation Agreement. However, you do have a claim for all the mortgage and maintenance payments which you have made during the time in which you have been divorced unless she can show that you intended to provide her a gift of such amounts which, under the circumstances, seems quite unlikely.
This issue may be mediated, and I strongly suggest that you contact me at 212-370-1660 to discuss mediating this matter in a civilized and cost-effective alternative to having this matter litigated in court.
Leonard M. Weiner, Esq./Divorce Solutions