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If the shoe doesn't fit, seek a fair share in property division

It might shock (or should we say, 'Shak'?) you to know that Tennessee's definition of marital property includes personal property such as clothing or shoes that were acquired with marital assets. For property division purposes, this means that the value of such assets can not only be counted as part of the marital estate in a divorce but also divided on an equitable basis.

While that may seem a little petty or "nit-picky" -- there have been and continue to be divorce cases where the value of this type of property is large enough to have a significant impact on the final property settlement.

Case in point: professional poker player Beth Shak.

According to news reports, Ms. Shak's former husband recently filed a lawsuit against her in New York, alleging that she failed to report her ownership of 1,200 pairs of expensive designer shoes during the couple's divorce proceedings.

Daniel Shak says his ex-wife hid her fabulous collection of footwear from him in their Fifth Avenue New York City apartment (1,200 pairs of shoes hidden in an apartment, really?) and that he didn't learn about it until after the divorce, when her shoe collection was featured on episodes of MTV's Cribs and NBC's Today Show.

He now claims that he's entitled to a 35 percent share of the value of the shoe collection, which he estimates is worth about $1 million.

How would a case like this play out in a Tennessee court? It depends. Beth Shak could prevail by arguing that her ex-husband had to know about the shoe collection (given the couple lived in an apartment) and that he should have raised the issue during the divorce process. On that front, it would also be helpful to know whether her husband included the value of his personal belongings and clothing when listing marital assets.

On the other hand, if Daniel Shak were able to convince a judge that he was truly oblivious to the shoe collection or that his wife took steps to conceal and protect it from being subject to property division during the divorce process, he might prevail. However there would still likely be a dispute surrounding the valuation of the shoes.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Beth Shak Sued For Shoe Collection By Ex-Husband," Rebecca Adams, June 24, 2012

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The Law Office of Steven C. Girsky
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