New York Times Reports that “Madoff Victim Seeks Divorce Do-Over”
As many of our clients are aware, going through a divorce process once is enough, let alone having to do it all over again. As the New York Times reported on May 30, 2011 , a New York man, Mr. Steven Simkin, is seeking to revise the divorce settlement him and his wife, Ms. Laura Blank reached in 2006, as the funds he was awarded were lost as a casualty to the Madoff disaster. As we have previously discussed, many parties reach a separation agreement or settlement agreement outside of court which resolves their marital issues.
When the parties reached their settlement in 2006, Ms. Blank chose to keep her funds out of the Madoff account, while Mr. Simkin chose to keep his with Mr. Madoff. Mr. Simkin argues that the settlement agreement, aka a contract, should be voided as the funds with Mr. Madoff did not even exist at the time of the divorce settlement. His argument relies on the “doctrine of “mutual mistake,” a well-established principle that allows for the cancellation of contracts, including divorce agreements, when both parties are innocently mistaken about an essential term. The case is currently with New York’s highest court and it is said that they are divided, as are many attorneys on the issue. The case could not only affect New York law, but the way that marital settlement agreements are handled throughout the country. Those who are against the revision of the agreement believe that it would allow for do-overs whenever an agreement does not go as planned. Many enter into these divorce agreements with no idea what the future holds, but it is a way of making a clean break from your spouse and moving forward.
For more information on marital settlement agreements, contact an experienced Maryland divorce attorney.