Piscatella v. Stanfield
In a case in which each party claims that the other took money from a home safe, a court can refuse to allocate that asset, if no one proved who was responsible. The parties married in May 2001. In or about December 2011, the husband, who had been injured at work, received $108,000, because his workers' compensation case settled. The husband, who was worried about creditors, converted the proceeds to cash, which he placed in his home safe. The parties used a portion of the money for a motorcycle, a vacation and living expenses. In October 2012, the parties argued and fought. The husband vacated the marital residence and took with him approximately $48,040 in cash. The police arrested the husband for criminal mischief and breach of the peace. A prosecutor was suspicious about the amount of cash that the husband possessed. The husband submitted copies of his workers' compensation records. A court ordered a criminal protective order for the wife. The protective order was modified, with the wife's consent, to permit the husband to return to the marital residence. The husband claimed that he gave the wife $2,000, himself $2,000 and returned about $44,040 to the safe. The wife served divorce papers on the husband, and he was ejected from the marital residence. The wife hired a locksmith to open the safe and only $4,600 was in the safe. Each party accused the other of taking the $39,440 or so that remained in the safe. The court was not persuaded that the husband knew that the wife immediately intended to serve the divorce papers and that he emptied the safe himself, because he expected the wife to eject him. The court also was not persuaded that the wife emptied the safe and then hired a locksmith, so that she could pretend to be surprised that the safe was empty. Neither one proved who was responsible for taking the missing cash. The court was unable to allocate the missing cash to either. The court ordered the husband to pay the wife $150 per week, as pendente lite alimony.