Case Studies

1. Dilemma

Karen and Richard were married for 20 years, with two teenage children. One afternoon, Richard left his computer on, open to a website, and upon looking at it, Karen realized that he was on a site for gay men, and arranging hookups with several of them frequently. She was stunned!

Unfortunately, the marriage did not survive this discovery. She felt betrayed, and he became angry and defensive. They proceeded to fight about everything, from who should stay in the house, to time with the children, to how to divide their finances. The real issue, of course, was the lifestyle betrayal, but it played itself out by being attached to other issues. Getting this couple to avoid wasting time, psychic energy and resources on lawyers took an understanding of what was really driving their behavior. We were able to mediate a divorce agreement by dealing with the underlying psychological issues.

*This is not an actual case but representative of issues that have occurred*

2. Dilemma

My client was a doctor from a family that had an extensive art collection. When he married his wife, they had a prenuptial agreement that gave his wife a reasonable property settlement in the event of a divorce, but not a share of the value of his medical practice.

He was worried because he was purchasing some expensive artwork during the marriage – Kandinsky and Picasso – that he had not thought to list as his separate property. We were able to arrange for the artwork to be purchased by his medical practice so that it might be exempt from the property he had to give to his wife upon divorce. In addition, we were able to mortgage the collection with an Investment Advisor to make it safe even from creditors.

But since he was generous to his wife in other ways, she did not contest the prenuptial agreement and they were able to work this out. I’ve seen the same strategy work with owners of fleets of gulfstreams and hotel chains. It can be done.

*This is not an actual case but representative of issues that have occurred*

3. Dilemma

Lisa and Steve lived in the suburbs with their 9 year old son. After she discovered her husband was doing cocaine and sleeping with the baby sitter, she asked him to leave. He moved out and stopped renovating their house, which was under construction. This left a large hole in the roof, and every time it rained, the floor and the furniture in the house got wet.

One morning, when Lisa got into the car to drive her son to school, the car would not start. A quick check showed that it was out of gas, even though Lisa had filled the tank the night before. Her husband had siphoned the gas out, leaving her with no way to get their son to school. I was able to decide how to deal with this sociopathic spouse to get her the best results in a separation agreement. It took an understanding of his pathology to make this happen.

*This is not an actual case but representative of issues that have occurred*

4. Dilemma

Lisa was married to Mark, a doctor. They lived in a brownstone in Manhattan, near his office. She began to notice that when she phoned her husband at his office, she was told that he was either “unavailable” or not in his office. When she asked him about this, he said he sometimes went to his gym during the day. She started calling the health club when he was not in the office but was told he was not at the gym. He also started giving Lisa less and less money each week although he earned well over half a million dollars a year.

Lisa spoke with her mother daily by phone, complaining about her husband’s increasingly abusive and strange behavior. One day when she was in the basement, Lisa realized that their home phone was hooked up to a recording device and that her husband had been recording all her conversations with her mother. He was using this information to gaslight her.

When she came to me with this story, I realized she was living with a sociopath. He was charming at first, but once he got what he wanted he started to change his behavior. In representing her in a divorce we used every trick in the book to discover her husband’s true income, prove his cocaine habit and his dissipation of marital assets, convincing the judge that she was entitled to a large amount of property. A good example of how understanding your spouse’s divorce personality can greatly improve the results of your divorce settlement.

*This is not an actual case but representative of issues that have occurred*

5. Dilemma

Susan and Harris were married with 2 young children. Susan was a high-powered hedge fund owner and managed the household finances. One day at work, Harris discovered that a lien had been placed on his modest salary by the IRS. He found out that the couple’s joint taxes had not been paid for the last three years, and the IRS had garnished his salary. It turned out that he had relied upon his wife to pay all the bills and taxes, but she had not paid the IRS or State for large sums of taxes owed for the past 3 years and had hidden this information from him. We had to investigate Susan’s finances and file an innocent spouse claim to get Harris off the hook for the unpaid tax bills, and obtain his share of the assets she had hidden offshore. An abusive, paranoid spouse, gone wrong and discovered.

*This is not an actual case but representative of issues that have occurred*

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