Thursday, January 8, 2009

Are organ donations and breast implants marital assets?

Divorcing spouses haggle about all kinds of assets, from pension plans to art collections to family heirlooms. Some couples have jewelry and antiques appraised so their value can be split. Battles wage over the Jaguar, the baby grand piano, and the wedding silver.

But here's one for the record books. A Long Island surgeon, embroiled in divorce negotiations for the past four years, wants his estranged wife to return the kidney he donated to her. Alternatively, she can fork over $1.5 million in compensation.

Dr. Richard Batista donated the kidney to his wife in 2001. He claims she began an extramarital affair 18 months later, and within three years of the transplant she filed for divorce. He also says that during the litigation, he has been prevented from seeing their three children.

If his allegations are true, I can't blame him for feeling bitter about being dumped and left with one kidney. But divorce experts say the kidney is not a marital asset that you can put a price tag on, and there's no chance he will succeed. According to Manhattan attorney Susan Moss: "The good doctor is out of luck and out a kidney. This is similar to cases where a husband wants to be repaid for the cost of breast implants and the such. Our judges are not willing to value such assets, so to speak."

1 comment:

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