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  1. #1
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    Default Division of Income from Moonlighting, Education Fund

    My question involves a marriage in the state of: MN

    I have had a short marriage and we were together for less than 1.5 years. The divorce was filed by my spouse more than a year ago and has been delayed mainly because of not having a common consensus about division of marital assets that involves mainly earnings from employments. No property or children.

    We have a substantial difference in incomes, with my base salary being almost 4 times. We do have identical educational backgrounds and earning potentials since our marriage. However, my spouse decided to pursue higher training that limited her income. I also wanted to pursue higher training, but had to wait to meet our financial needs.

    I have earned a good amount of money through moonlighting shifts above and beyond my regular salary. Having same educational background, my spouse also had opportunities to do similar moonlighting shifts, but she did not.

    Now the questions is, can I argue in the court that this moonlighting income should not be counted as a marital asset and should not be divided equally among us? I plan to start higher training from next year and these savings will be tremendously helpful during 4 years of training, when my salaries will be minimal. On the other hand, my spouse has finished her training this year and will have a huge salary potential for the rest of our career.

    Also, I receive about $5000 as continuing educational fund from my employer every year and my spouse is arguing to consider this as a martial asset and split it equally. Does that sound reasonable?

    Thank you very much for reading this post! Any inputs will be highly appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Division of Income from Moonlighting, Education Fund

    Quote Quoting pg79
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    My question involves a marriage in the state of: MN

    I have had a short marriage and we were together for less than 1.5 years. The divorce was filed by my spouse more than a year ago and has been delayed mainly because of not having a common consensus about division of marital assets that involves mainly earnings from employments. No property or children.

    We have a substantial difference in incomes, with my base salary being almost 4 times. We do have identical educational backgrounds and earning potentials since our marriage. However, my spouse decided to pursue higher training that limited her income. I also wanted to pursue higher training, but had to wait to meet our financial needs.

    I have earned a good amount of money through moonlighting shifts above and beyond my regular salary. Having same educational background, my spouse also had opportunities to do similar moonlighting shifts, but she did not.

    Now the questions is, can I argue in the court that this moonlighting income should not be counted as a marital asset and should not be divided equally among us? I plan to start higher training from next year and these savings will be tremendously helpful during 4 years of training, when my salaries will be minimal. On the other hand, my spouse has finished her training this year and will have a huge salary potential for the rest of our career.

    Also, I receive about $5000 as continuing educational fund from my employer every year and my spouse is arguing to consider this as a martial asset and split it equally. Does that sound reasonable?

    Thank you very much for reading this post! Any inputs will be highly appreciated.
    I doubt that the educational fund would be considered to be marital property. However, any savings that accumulated during the marriage would be considered to be marital property. Savings that accumulated prior to the marriage would not be marital property.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Division of Income from Moonlighting, Education Fund

    Quote Quoting pg79
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    Also, I receive about $5000 as continuing educational fund from my employer every year and my spouse is arguing to consider this as a martial asset and split it equally. Does that sound reasonable?
    Are you required to take continuing education as part of your job or for a license you hold? Are you required to spend the money from your employer for continuing education? Are you required to document your expenditures back to your employer? Do you spend the full amount on continuing education every year?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Division of Income from Moonlighting, Education Fund

    Thank you for your replies.

    Yes, I am required by my job and state licensure authority to take continuing education. I document my expenditures to my employer and they reimburse me for these expenses. These reimbursement goes into my personal checking account. I do spend all of this amount every year.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Division of Income from Moonlighting, Education Fund

    Quote Quoting pg79
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    Thank you for your replies.

    Yes, I am required by my job and state licensure authority to take continuing education. I document my expenditures to my employer and they reimburse me for these expenses. These reimbursement goes into my personal checking account. I do spend all of this amount every year.
    Then again, I don't see how that could be a marital asset, it appears to be conditional to your employment.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Division of Income from Moonlighting, Education Fund

    Thank you!

    Can you please tell me if I can argue in the court that my wife acquired higher training in the duration of marriage that will increase her income significantly from July, 2014. Do you think the court would consider our future earning potential? I am in a tough spot as I have yet to start 4 years of training from next year with minimal income. I will need my savings at that time.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Division of Income from Moonlighting, Education Fund

    Quote Quoting pg79
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    Thank you!

    Can you please tell me if I can argue in the court that my wife acquired higher training in the duration of marriage that will increase her income significantly from July, 2014. Do you think the court would consider our future earning potential? I am in a tough spot as I have yet to start 4 years of training from next year with minimal income. I will need my savings at that time.
    Again, savings that accrued during a marriage are marital property. I don't see any way around that.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Division of Income from Moonlighting, Education Fund

    Quote Quoting llworking
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    Then again, I don't see how that could be a marital asset, it appears to be conditional to your employment.
    If this is a reimbursement check, then it would appear to be repayment for money spent out of the marital estate to pay for the continuing education.
    Quote Quoting pg79
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    Can you please tell me if I can argue in the court that my wife acquired higher training in the duration of marriage that will increase her income significantly from July, 2014. Do you think the court would consider our future earning potential? I am in a tough spot as I have yet to start 4 years of training from next year with minimal income. I will need my savings at that time.
    See Berger v Berger, 277 Mich App 700; 747 N.W.2d 336 (2008).
    Quote Quoting Berger v Berger
    The Postema Court noted that in certain situations panels of this Court had held that "fairness dictates that a spouse who did not earn an advanced degree be compensated whenever the advanced degree is the end product of a concerted family effort involving mutual sacrifice and effort by both spouses." Postema, supra at 94, 471 N.W.2d 912. The Court concluded that where "an advanced degree is the end product of a concerted family effort, involving the mutual sacrifice, effort, and contribution of both spouses, there arises a `marital asset' subject to distribution, wherein the interest of the nonstudent spouse consists of an `equitable claim' regarding the degree." Id. at 101, 471 N.W.2d 912. But the Postema Court specifically rejected the approach defendant advocates here of using expert testimony to establish a present value for an educational degree that one spouse obtained during the marriage and dividing it like any other marital asset. Id. at 102-103, 471 N.W.2d 912.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Division of Income from Moonlighting, Education Fund

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
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    If this is a reimbursement check, then it would appear to be repayment for money spent out of the marital estate to pay for the continuing education.
    That's possible, but it didn't sound that way.

    See Berger v Berger, 277 Mich App 700; 747 N.W.2d 336 (2008).
    I just read Berger vs Berger pretty thoroughly and I don't think its on point. It was purely a custody case that had no financial issues involved other than referencing means of supporting children. I also read Postema v Postema and it is significantly more on point, but still, it was about a judge setting a value on a law degree earned during the marriage, and treating that as a marital asset, with a value, and awarding a portion of that value to the other spouse. However in the case the marital savings were still divided at the time of divorce.

    With this OP, we are talking about marital savings accrued during the marriage. Based on the fact that he was able to save apparently significant money during this incredibly short marriage I am not sure that his wife's "advanced training" was financed through his sacrifices. His claim to need 4 years of "advanced" training himself at this time is a little questionable considering that he has been making regular use of a significant education fund provided by his employer.

    He really needs to consult an attorney with whom he can lay out the details that he apparently does not care to indulge here, to determine if somehow its possible that he would not have to split the marital savings.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Division of Income from Moonlighting, Education Fund

    You apparently missed the OP's question about making a claim against his wife's "higher earning potential" due to the education she received during the marriage, which I quoted right before I provided the excerpt from Berger. The summary of the law, as provided by Berger and as quoted above, describes the extent to which you can make a claim against a spouse's advanced degree within the context of divorce. Yes, you can also read the cases cited in Berger through the links I provided if you want more detail. I doubt that his wife's "advanced training", whatever it is, would qualify as the type of degree for which you could make an equitable claim under Berger and the cases it cites, but we don't have the details and that is the governing law.

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