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Wind blows in wife's favor during Manhattan divorce battle

It took four hours for a Manhattan judge to settle a divorce claim over a piece of metal, which the warring former spouses felt was valuable for different reasons. The judge sided with the ex-wife who dragged a bulky weather vane with her to the courtroom.

The metal wind indicator was perched atop the couple's $4 million marital home in Westchester County until their 2009 divorce. One-time Ford model Kim Charlton had the vane removed from the roof.

Charlton's 64-year-old former husband Stephen Benson kept the Bedford mansion and another property in the couple's divorce settlement. In exchange, Benson agreed to pay $365,000, a promise he never fulfilled.

The weather vane angered Benson who claimed his house was damaged when his former wife hired workers removed it. Benson said the vane was his property, although Charlton purchased the piece before the three-year marriage.

Charlton took the copper vane to court along with four screws that secured it to the roof. She was prepared to hand over the object to her former spouse, but she never had to do that.

The ex-wife proved successfully the weather vane was a frivolous excuse for Benson to withhold the settlement payment. The judge blasted the former husband and his attorney for trying to "offset" the payment with a weather vane valued at $150. At one point in the lengthy proceeding, the judge ordered Benson's physically assertive lawyer to "step back."

The weather vane was attached to the house Benson won in the divorce settlement, but the asset was personal property belonging to his former wife. Marital property consists of assets and liabilities accumulated by spouses after they marry.

Assets purchased before marriage are considered separate and not subject to equitable distribution. The husband might have had more success by arguing the weather vane was commingled with marital property once it was added to the couple's home.

Source:  nypost.com, "Former model Kim Charlton wins divorce fight by presenting disputed weather vane" Julia Marsh, May. 30, 2013

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