Ryan v. Ryan – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In Ryan v. Ryan, 123 AD2d 429, 506 N.Y.S.2d 734 [2 Dept.,1986], plaintiff commenced an action for divorce in New York. Defendant subsequently obtained a foreign divorce in Vermont.

Plaintiff did not challenge the Vermont judgment of divorce but sought to enforce her right to equitable distribution in New York in the action she had commenced for divorce.

Defendant opposed plaintiff's request for equitable distribution arguing that procedurally plaintiff could not convert her action for divorce to one seeking equitable distribution because she commenced the divorce action prior in time to when he sought and obtained the foreign judgment of divorce in Vermont.

The Appellate Division, Second Department ruled that under these circumstances judicial economy required that "plaintiff should be permitted to serve an amended complaint to seek equitable distribution of the parties' marital property and maintenance following a foreign judgment of divorce, pursuant to Domestic Relations Law 236 (B)(2)" (123 AD2d at 430).