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Father Knows Best: Church Assets May Be Valued In a Pastor's Divorce Proceeding

November 15, 2007

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The wife of a pastor sued for divorce in New York. Her attorney argued that the pastor --the wife's estranged husband-- used the church's assets as his "personal piggy bank." Not suprisingly, the pastor protested that he was merely a humble "W-2" employee of a duly registered not for profit religious corporation. Ruling that the church and its finances may be considered the pastor's "alter ego" if he had unfettered control of its assets for his personal use, the court permitted the wife to pursue the valuation of the church's assets for equitable distribution purposes.

We are reminded of the biblical admonition: You reap what you sow. (Galatians 6-7) Or the more practical lesson to be careful how much you tell your spouse if your marriage is on shaky ground.

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