November 4, 2005
Judge Splits Jurisdiction of Custody and Financial Issues Between Two States
Wife filed for divorce in New York, where case law would entitle her to an interest in her husband's medical degree. Husband filed for divorce and custody of the children where they live - Ohio - which has jurisdiction under the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. In an action brought by wife to enjoin husband's suit, the New York judge ruled that the two interests are not necessarily irreconcilable.
In New York, the medical degree would be considered marital property, under O'Brien v. O'Brien. But not so in Ohio. "The wife suggests that the husband's challenge to her request for custody is insincere," Drager wrote. "The husband does not - and cannot - dispute the fact that he has spent relatively little time with the children since he left the marital residence." However, under the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, the New York court does not have jurisdiction to resolve the custody dispute because "New York was not the home state of the children at or within six months prior to the commencement of the New York Action," according to Drager. Therefore, like Solomon, Drager decided to slice the prize in half. The child custody issue will remain in Ohio, but the remainder of the divorce proceeding, including the distribution of property, will be heard in New York.
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