People in Maryland may have heard about a recent divorce-related court case, and the court’s tongue-in-cheek ruling that followed. The wife of Steve Cohen, the billionaire hedge fund manager at SAC Capital Partners, brought a suit stemming from the couple’s divorce 25 years ago, alleging that Cohen hid some $5 million or more in assets from her during the divorce.
But the real kicker was the adjoining claim, that Cohen had violated the RICO Act by committing insider trading, money laundering and even fraud. Under the federal RICO Act, she would have received triple the civil damages she sought in relation to her divorce claim. The court, in a ruling that sounded equal parts chastising and exasperated, denied her claim while commenting on the unusual length of the litigation between these ex-spouses.
In a complex divorce, couples generally have a multitude of property interests in various forms, including business holdings and complex financial accounts. In a divorce in Maryland, each spouse is entitled to an equitable share of all marital property, but sometimes the problem can be discovering these assets, and then coming up with a reasonable valuation of their worth.
In this case, Cohen’s ex-wife waited until 2009, many years after the divorce had ended, to bring her claim that Cohen hid assets during their divorce. Perhaps not surprisingly, the court was not entertained by her timing, or the immense legal resources that each side has leveraged in their fight.
People who are going through a divorce should make sure they do it right the first time by working with their divorce attorney to identify and account for all marital property, and litigating if necessary to make sure they get their fair share.
Source: New York Daily News “Judge lectures billionaire Steven Cohen, ex-wife over post-divorce court spats,” Daniel Beekman, Jan. 28, 2014