Monday, July 10, 2006

Exploding Buildings, Exploding Marriages

You've probably all read about the building on the Upper East Side, my old neighborhood, which exploded today.

It was not the first explosion in this house, as a cursory review of the divorce settlement will show:
We affirm the determination awarding a divorce to plaintiff on grounds of cruel and inhuman treatment. Plaintiff's proof, when viewed cumulatively, established by a preponderance of the credible evidence that defendant had engaged in a course of conduct which was harmful to the plaintiff's physical and mental health, thus rendering cohabitation unsafe or improper (Domestic Relations Law § 170 [1]).

This was not a case of ordinary marital dissatisfaction or even "riotous quarrels" as defendant suggests. Defendant intentionally traumatized plaintiff, a woman of Jewish origin born in Nazi-occupied Holland, with swastika-adorned articles and notes affixed around their home, and became enraged when she removed them. He ignored her need for support and assistance while she was undergoing surgery and treatment for breast cancer (see Siczewicz v Siczewicz, 92 AD2d 915, 916 [1983], appeal dismissed 59 NY2d 968 [1983]). He systematically cut off her access to marital funds and credit as a means of psychological abuse. Even plaintiff's assertion that defendant completely ceased speaking to her is not benign, but must be understood in the context of the prior years' verbal abuse.

Physical violence is not a prerequisite for a showing that plaintiff's physical or mental well-being rendered it unsafe or improper for her to continue cohabiting with defendant as required by Domestic Relations Law § 170 (1) (see Hessen v Hessen, 33 NY2d 406, 410 [1974]; Pfoltzer v Morris-Pfoltzer, 9 AD3d 615, 616-617 [2004]). Nor did plaintiff need an expert to prove that defendant's actions had the claimed effect on her mental condition (see Levine v Levine, 2 AD3d 498, 500 [2003]), particularly in view of her explanation that she is the type of person who finds it difficult to consider seeking psychological treatment.
Nice guy. No need to pity him for this.