As you are aware, double dipping refers to the situation in which one of the parties to a marital dissolution receives double payment for a single asset, or gets charged with the receipt of an asset and then is asked to pay support from its income stream. Double dipping can occur when investments or pensions have been included in the equalization payment. Typically, the non-investment or non-pension holding spouse traded his or her interest in future payouts for other assets, such as the party’s share in the home or a business. The double dip scenario arises when the party who traded his or her share in an asset later requests spousal support when the paying party’s primary or single source of income is a pension or investments.
Of course, it is the obligation of the attorney representing the party who wishes to gain full possession of investments or a pension to advise the client of the potential for double dipping and to assist that client to avoid a potential nightmarish scenario. Although this responsibility is rarely violated, I thought it would be of interest to present a case in which counsel actually breached the Attorney Standard of Care by neglecting this duty, which eventually led to a serious malpractice action.
In Newsletter #28, I provide you a brief review of the background of In re Marriage of White (1987), in which the findings directly impacted cause for the malpractice case addressed in this issue’s feature article. Please note that due to the sensitive nature of the case presented here, I am using fictitious rather than actual names of the law firms and parties involved. Also, there are specifics about this case I will not divulge. Nevertheless, I believe you will find this account interesting and informative.