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Bursztyn v. Bursztyn

July 22, 2005


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Bergen County, FM-02-2235-00.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Weissbard, J.A.D.



Argued February 14, 2005

Before Judges A. A. Rodriguez, Cuff and Weissbard.

In this matrimonial litigation, plaintiff Miriam Bursztyn appeals and defendant Enrique M. Bursztyn cross-appeals from an order of the Family Part awarding alimony to plaintiff, ordering the equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities, tieing defendant's future obligation for college expenses of the parties' younger son to his relationship with the son, compelling plaintiff to execute joint federal and state income tax returns for the years 1999-2001, and awarding counsel fees. We find no error warranting reversal and therefore affirm the judgment in all respects.*fn1


[At the court's direction, a portion of its discussion of the facts and the court's rulings has been omitted from the published opinion.]


Plaintiff, presently age fifty-six, and defendant, presently age fifty-three, were married on November 25, 1982. Two children were born of the marriage: Ian, presently age twenty-one, and Justin, presently age nineteen. In March 2000, after seventeen years of marriage, plaintiff filed for divorce.

Plaintiff holds a masters degree in psychology, and she has completed approximately twenty credits in post-graduate studies.

However, plaintiff did not work outside the home at any point during the marriage. Plaintiff served as homemaker and primary caretaker of the parties' two sons.

Defendant, a radiologist, was the sole financial provider for the family.*fn2 When the parties met, defendant had completed his medical studies. He was working pursuant to a fellowship at New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.

When plaintiff filed for divorce, defendant was working as the medical director at Yonkers Imaging, P.C., in Yonkers, New York, a radiology center he had founded in or about 1987. Between approximately 1992/1993 and 1996, defendant also operated a second radiology center, Westside M.R.I., in Manhattan. However, Westside M.R.I. was never a significant part of defendant's income.

Yonkers Imaging operated pursuant to contracts with a management company. Under the contracts, Yonkers Imaging leased its building and equipment from the management company, and the management company was responsible for collecting on Yonkers Imaging's accounts receivable. Based upon those collections, and pursuant to the contract terms, the management company provided revenue to Yonkers Imaging. Defendant's remuneration was based upon formulas set forth in the contracts.

Defendant earned a substantial, albeit fluctuating, income from Yonkers Imaging. In the years leading up to the divorce, defendant's income significantly decreased due to reduced volume in accounts receivable and increased difficulty in collecting on accounts receivable -- circumstances defendant attributed to changes in the medical marketplace in general, and particularly to the switch to managed care reimbursements. In addition, in the years leading up to the divorce, the contracts between Yonkers Imaging and the management company became less profitable for defendant, as the management company required Yonkers Imaging to bear costs which the management company previously had covered, including the costs of defendant's life, health, disability, and malpractice insurance, and the cost of employing replacement physicians while defendant was on vacation.

The record reflects the following adjusted gross (pre-tax) income reported by defendant on his federal income tax returns, based upon the following gross (pre-tax) revenue reported by Yonkers Imaging, P.C. and Westside M.R.I., between the years 1993 and 2000 (the year plaintiff filed for divorce):

YearDefendant's Adjusted Gross IncomePractices' Gross Revenue 1993$389,190$602,910*fn3 1994$478,864$661,059*fn4 1995$593,811$741,000*fn5 1996$511,441$732,900*fn6 1997$397,277$641,019 1998$281,656$489,000 1999$429,397*fn7$463,108 2000$509,623*fn8$555,000

In 2001, defendant reported an adjusted gross income of $320,012. And, in 2002, defendant reported an adjusted gross income of $248,905, which was net of the ...

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