Court Reaffirms $3.2 Million Divorce Award to Pennsylvania Woman
Posted on June 10th, 2021
Divorce can get messy, and certainly did in a 2004 Northumberland County divorce case whose monetary award is still being reaffirmed 17 years later. This year, another federal appeals court reaffirmed a $3.2 million high asset divorce award to Donna Deitrick, according to a PennLive article. She was originally awarded this sum to pay back the contents of a safe taken by her then-husband and unfairly redistributed by him, and to pay back emotional damages for experiencing “embarrassment, humiliation and/or loss in the ability of life.”
Appeals had been filed by the original defendants, Deitrick’s ex-husband, Robert Yoncuski, his current wife, Vanessa Yoncuski, his brother, Thomas Yoncuski, and Jeff and Marianne Adams. The federal appeals court decided they would not “modify or grant defense motions for a new trial.” This means that the defendants are still required to pay out the original mandated amount to Deitrick.
How Did This Happen?
Several actions taken by the defendants, along with evidence from the plaintiff’s representation and police reports, proved Deitrick’s ownership of the property and wealth owed to her by her ex-husband.
When Deitrick was given a protection-from-abuse order against her then estranged husband, she had “exclusive occupancy of the home.” As stated by the Pennsylvania Office of Victim Services, this is a court order issued by a judge to “provide you protective ‘relief’ from someone who is abusing you, for up to three years.” This makes it illegal for someone to contact you–and your children if you have any–and to attempt to tread on your assigned property.
When Robert Yoncuski entered her home to take their safe, he violated the PFA. That was the first strike against him as the defendant, followed by taking the safe and its contents. The safe and included assets were considered property owned by both R. Yoncuski and Dietrick–therefore, it couldn’t be sold without consequences. Until the court decided who would get what assets, the safe and its contents were not his to take and should have remained in their home.
To make matters worse for himself, R. Yoncuski hadn’t disclosed its location during the divorce. Whether the PA court was going to originally give him ownership of the safe’s contents or not, refusing or being unable to provide its location and contents was a thorn in his high-asset divorce case.
What Not to Do
The first thing would be to try and have as peaceful and amicable a divorce as possible. However, that’s not always possible and when a PFA is involved, which is often the product of serious abuse, things can become even tenser. But in a high asset divorce, there are things you should do to keep what is rightfully yours.
- Obey the PFA: Breaking a court order exponentially decreases your chances of the desired settlement. Doing so can even see you punished in the court of law beyond your divorce.
- Do Not Take Property from Your Spouse: Even if you find yourself worried about your belongings in your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s possession, document it. You cannot try to take it yourself without your spouse’s permission. You can hurt your chances of gaining any rights to said property at all otherwise.
- Do Not Hide Property from Your Spouse: Do not hide what you own from your spouse. If they try to take it from you, record and document it.
Pennsylvania High Asset Divorce Attorney Craig Kalinoski is Here For You
If you ever find yourself in need of a PFA, Kalinoski Law Offices can assist you. If you need representation against a PFA, don’t hesitate to contact us so we can consult on what you can do.
And most importantly, if you need representation to help you with a high asset divorce, call Kalinoski Law. We’re the law firm that can protect your assets and your family, and we offer free consultations.
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Craig P. Kalinoski is a respected attorney serving clients in Scranton, Pennsylvania. With a focus on Family Law, Criminal Defense, and Civil Rights, he has established himself as a top-rated legal professional. Recognized as a Rising Star and admired by peers, Craig's commitment to excellence sets him apart in the legal field.