This week in federal court, Rosemary Martoma, the wife of former SAC Capital trader Mathew Martoma, filed a petition asking the court to let her keep half of the assets that she and her husband owned, which would otherwise be forfeited by the government to cover the $US9.3 million fine imposed on Mathew by the court.
Rosemary, who gave up her career as a pediatrician in 2003 to stay home and care for the couple’s children and household, thinks that she has a claim to half of the family assets, as she gave up her own career “based on the promise that she would have equal, joint ownership of all income derived from the Defendant’s work outside of the household.”
Michael Bowe of Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman, a lawyer that the New York Post called for comment, said that, “If one spouse steals money, the other spouse doesn’t get to keep it just because she quit work.”
But why not? It’s reasonably worth thinking through, even if you don’t think she’s entitled to any money.
These are the facts as we know them:
- Rosemary Martoma had a highly skilled, well-paid job.
- She gave up her own job in order to take care of the couple’s children because, presumably, of the amount that her husband worked (details on that are in this recent New Yorker piece on Mathew).
- In exchange for this work inside the household (but outside the formal economy) she received an equal share of all of the couple’s assets.
- On Mathew’s side, he committed a crime in the process of earning some of those assets, then was caught and convicted.
- But on Rosemary’s side, she held up her end of the bargain.
The children are cared for. The house is presumably clean. She has not been accused of any wrongdoing. So why should her assets, earned in the informal (but not illegal) economy, be forfeited? Why should the law punish her and her children for a crime they had no part in?
It’s a fair legal (and moral) question, particularly if you believe that one spouse working outside the house and one working on the inside is an equitable way to distribute familial labour.