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Are Breast Implants and Donated Organs Marital Assets?

ac·ri·mo·ni·ous di·vorce (ăk'rə-mō'nē-əs dĭ-vôrs): A legal dissolution of a marriage accompanied by a request that the former spouse's breast implants or donated organs be treated as marital assets.

Okay, I made that definition up, but you must admit that things are getting a bit out-of-hand in divorce proceedings when the husband demands that the $5,500 spent on his wife's breast implants be counted as marital assets, entitling him to additional property in the breakup (and then takes this claim to the state's Supreme Court when the lower court mocks him).

That is exactly what is going on in Isaacson v. Isaacson, in which Erik Isaacson is claiming that the value of Traci Isaacson's implants should be counted when the divorcing couple splits up its assets. He also claimed her Lasik eye surgery, valued at $1,000, should be counted. According to a transcript of the initial proceedings before South Central District of North Dakota Judge Robert Wefald, however, Judge Wefald was not persuaded by Mr. Isaacson. Judge Wefald reportedly found that the implant-related claim was "absolutely nonsense," stating that "I can't imagine people would actually waste time thinking that breast implants are marital assets. It just defies common sense. I don't know how you would expect me to award breast implants, if you want me to have them cut out and given to Mr. Isaacson."

From the limited reports of the oral argument last week before the North Dakota Supreme Court on the issue (found via this post on the How Appealing blog), it looks as though that court may also be skeptical of Mr. Isaacson's claim. "Do we have any lines to be drawn? Is dental work a marital asset? Is a hip replacement a marital asset?" Justice Daniel Crothers asked Mr. Isaacson's attorney. His attorney argued more broadly that medical expenses should be deemed marital assets when they are "clearly cosmetic, elective, (and) non-necessary."

A quick review of the blawgosphere on this issue shows that Mr. Isaacson is not alone in considering this type of ruling. The First Wives World blog reminds its readers that if the shoe is on the other foot, and if a husband spends thousands of dollars on breast implants for the "other woman," a judge may consider this a dissipation of marital assets and order it re-paid to the marital estate.

Even more dramatic is the case of a Long Island surgeon going through a divorce, discussed earlier this year on the Still Hot blog. The surgeon reportedly sought the return of a kidney he had donated to his estranged wife. Offering an alternative, he said that his wife, whom he claimed had engaged in an extramarital affair and filed for divorce, could pay him $1.5 million in compensation.

Posted by Bruce Carton on December 7, 2009 at 10:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

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