Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Judge: Divorce cases skewed toward women

This article is from the New York Daily News and could be accessed here but I believe they only leave articles available for a short time.


Judge: Divorce cases skewed toward women
BY JOE MAHONEYDAILY NEWS ALBANY BUREAU CHIEF

One of New York's top judges started tongues wagging after suggesting divorce leaves men with the short end of the stick when it's time to divvy up the dough.

In a speech last week, Court of Appeals Judge Robert Smith suggested courts aren't always gender-neutral - and the marriage contract is often skewed in favor of the woman, according to the New York Law Journal.

In divorce cases involving working women and stay-at-home husbands, Smith said he suspects men still don't get their fair share.

"I read a case where the wife was a dental hygienist and the husband said, 'That's marital property.' The court said, 'You're right, it is marital property. You are getting 7%,'" the Law Journal quoted Smith saying Thursday in a speech to the Family Law Section of the New York State Bar Association.

A spokesman for the Court of Appeals said Smith had no additional comments about the controversial speech.

"It's not something he wants to comment on further," spokesman Gary Spencer said.

Claims of a pro-female tilt ignore the harsh financial realities of divorce, said Marcia Pappas, head of the New York State chapter of the National Organization for Women.

"Judge Smith is out of touch with real families," Pappas said. "How he thinks the system favors women is really surprising to me. I'm not sure what he's basing his personal opinions on."

But prominent New York divorce lawyer Eleanor Alter, whose clients have included Christie Brinkley and Mia Farrow, hailed Smith for adding some spice to the "discussion and disagreement" over matrimonial law.

"It's great that he said it," Alter said. "If we get to the point where we can only say what's politically correct, then we're in pretty bad shape."

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