MacElree Harvey Wins Supreme Court Appeal of Delaware Marital Property Case

“It is not the date of separation, but the date of divorce that controls if property is marital or individual.”

In a decision that could significantly affect divorce law in Delaware, the Delaware Supreme Court held on March 15, 2017 that a spouse’s bonus income earned after separation but before divorce is marital property. Delaware family law attorneys Patrick J. Boyer and Marie I. Crossley of MacElree Harvey, Ltd. presented the issue before the Court and successfully prosecuted the appeal on behalf the appellant Brad King.

In KING v. HOWARD,  the wife signed a Transactional Bonus Agreement in September 2013 granting her a sizable payment as incentive for her to assist in the sale of her employer’s company. The couple separated on November 10, 2013. The transaction bonus was paid to Wife in April, 2014, before the parties’ divorce on August 14, 2014. The trial court held that only one-third of the transaction bonus paid to Wife qualified as marital property because two-thirds of the bonus payment was subject to forfeiture after the couple’s divorce. The Supreme Court reversed, accepting the appellant’s arguments that Delaware statute and caselaw established that entire bonus was marital property.

“Although wife’s bonus might have been subject to forfeiture post-divorce, it was nonetheless earned … during the marriage.”

Click here to read the full opinion of the case.


Patrick J. Boyer represents clients in matters relating to divorce, property division, alimony, child custody, child support, and domestic violence. In addition, Patrick assists clients with issues involving guardianship and third party visitation. He is licensed in Delaware and Pennsylvania, and works out of the Centreville Delaware office at MacElree Harvey Ltd. Patrick can be reached at [email protected] or 302-504-7294.

Marie I. Crossley offers her clients nearly 14 years of legal practice dedicated exclusively to Delaware divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and other family law matters, ranging from the mediation of small disputes to complex litigation cases. Marie is a Superior Court Certified Mediator. She can serve as both a court-appointed mediator and party-selected mediator to accommodate clients who are seeking to resolve their marital disputes through collaborative mediation rather than combative litigation process. Marie can be reached at [email protected] or 302-504-7286.