Lesbian Lawyers Split a $3.5 M Home; New York Judge Applies ‘Divorce’ Rule
Posted Jun 7, 2007 4:46 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
A Manhattan judge treated two lesbian lawyers as if they were married when deciding recently how to divide their $3.5 million home after they split up. Although the two were tenants in common, which ordinarily calls for a 50-50 share in the equity after the partners sell, the judge instead used the "equitable distribution" standard that applies in New York to the division of a divorcing couple's marital property.
Thus, because one lawyer, intellectual property star Constance Huttner, contributed far more than the other to the original purchase, Judge Rosalyn Richter ruled May 30 that each attorney should get back the full amount she contributed to the purchase price and "contributions," plus half the profit, reports New York Lawyer, which provides a link to the opinion. Property records show Huttner and Yaffa Cheslow paid just under $3.5 million for the townhome when they moved in together in 2003, but it could now be worth considerably more, due to renovation and appreciation in the Manhattan real estate market.
Huttner, who was formerly a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, recently moved to Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, where she chairs the firm's intellectual property group. Cheslow is a lawyer for a hedge fund. A lawyer for Huttner told New York Lawyer that "we intend to continue to evaluate all of our options as the case proceeds to its final judgments."