The “Anti-Steneken” Decision
On May 21, 2019 The Appellate Court of Connecticut ruled against the “double dip” in the case of PENNY OUDHEUSDEN v. PETER OUDHEUSDEN. The decision takes the opposite position of the New Jersey Appellate Court in 2004 in Steneken v. Steneken, 367 N.J. Super. 427 (App. Div. 2004) which decided the “double dip” was permissible.
So, what is the “double dip”? According to NJ attorneys Charles F. Vuotto and Lisa Steinman:
The “double-dip” refers to the double counting of a marital asset, once in the property division and again in the alimony award. More specifically, where a court uses a business owner’s “excess earnings” to value the interest in the business and also fixes support on that spouse’s total income (inclusive of the “excess earnings” used to value the business), a “double-dip” occurs. The tacit acceptance (by some) of a rule against the “double-dip” served to ameliorate the harsh result of distributing undiscounted business values while also fixing alimony on the same income stream used to value a business. However, the recent decision of Steneken, has submerged the availability of a rule against the “double-dip”.
Could this impact NJ divorce law? As of this writing we don’t know if the decision will be appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court. As forensic accountants and non-attorneys, we don’t know if New Jersey attorneys, using an out of state case, can try and overturn Steneken – something that would require a New Jersey Supreme Court Decision presumably on a new matter. That effort would take years and thousands of dollars in legal and expert fees. For the right case with enough dollars at stake it may make sense.
If you would like a copy of the PENNY OUDHEUSDEN v. PETER OUDHEUSDEN decision email Jeffrey D. Urbach, partner at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jeff has been providing Court related litigation support services for over thirty years. He is a NJ Roster Rule 1:40 Mediator and is trained in Collaborative Law. Jeff is a CPA, ABV (Accredited in Business Valuations by the AICPA) and a CVA (Certified Valuation Analyst by the NACVA) among other advanced designations.