And, needless to say, plenty of residents of New York City and State.
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In Alabama granted 17, divorces, compared to a paltry 9, in Nevada. Other divorce mills were located in Havana, Paris, Mexico, and the oh irony! So the travel business was flourishing, thanks to travel-prone New Yorkers. But what about those who were unable to decamp for distant regions?
"Divorce New York Style" by Lee Rosenberg
Annulments on various grounds were possible. But repeated attempts at divorce reform died in committee, so that in New York State adultery continued to be the only grounds allowed. Ah, but never underestimate the resourcefulness of New Yorkers. To establish adultery as grounds for divorce, a professional co-respondent was hired. Of course the man must be at fault, not the virtuous wife. As a result, in the number of decrees in New York City dropped by a third. But divorce fraud soon revived and flourished.
Meaningful reform finally came with the Divorce Reform Law of , which expanded the grounds for divorce beyond adultery to include: In exchange for supporting the bill, conservatives demanded and obtained safeguards against easy divorce. Filing procedures were made so complex that legal fees were beyond the reach of many, and elaborate counseling and conciliation procedures became mandatory. Divorce proceedings could be long and costly and venomous. In Purpura vs. Purpura, a case that had dragged on for 21 years, finally seemed to be coming to an end.
A Wall Street executive named Nicholas Purpura had been battling his wife over his assets since , a fight initiated even before their divorce in But even that might not have been the end of it, since Purpura had filed four appeals that were still pending. And in seeing photographs of erring couples caught in the act.
Sometime back in those days Life magazine featured an article on a private detective hired to take telltale photos of erring couples in, I think, Berkeley, California. While his wife stood guard to warn him of interference, he stalked hotel corridors, knocked on doors, and snapped photos of whoever answered, or even invaded the room to take pictures.
Life published a number of these photos, blacking out just enough of the facial features to prevent recognition. Like many a reader, I in my youthful ignorance gobbled up the photos in surprise and wonder. And here in New York State someone did a serious study of some photos of adulterous couples used as evidence, listing how many men and how many women were in nightclothes, in their underwear, naked, or a rather elegant touch in a kimono.
A good example of how strict laws meant to encourage virtue and marital stability can backfire with dubious results. Even as other states were adopting no-fault divorce laws, New York clung stubbornly to its fault-based laws. Until , that is. And this in a state that is usually viewed as ardently liberal and progressive. So why the long delay?
And the reluctance of liberals to provoke a debate where they would be pilloried as enemies of marriage and the family. But no-fault divorce did come in time, though only after protracted and heated debate, when the contradiction between the laws on the books, and the actual practices of New Yorkers, could no longer be ignored. Yes, times have changed, and Reno is no longer the divorce capital of the country. New Yorkers can stay comfily put and get their divorces at what would seem to be bargain rates. A new twist, a law office sign in California. But how does the New York divorce rate compare with other states, and who has the highest rate, and who the lowest?
According to the latest available government statistics, covering , the highest number of divorces per 1, people is — unsurprisingly — Nevada, with 6. The lowest rate is Massachusetts, with 1. In between, but on the low side: And what states come close to Nevada? Surprises here, as well: Idaho and West Virginia, 5. Is there a connection? Is there perhaps an alternative to divorce? In the village of Biertan, Romania, next to the old fortified church is a small, drab-looking building that seems to have no windows. For centuries, couples wanting a divorce have been obliged to reside there together for two weeks before proceeding with the divorce.
"Divorce New York Style" by Lee Rosenberg
This has been the custom for some four hundred years, and in all that time how many couples then chose to proceed with the divorce? The Biertan house for couples wanting a divorce. Not the latest in de luxe comfort. Two notes on trivia: Last June, in a moment of delusion, I sent some poems to a small review. Recently, having heard nothing for six long months, I wrote the submission off. Then, on Christmas Day, I got an e-mail of rejection.
What species of creep devotes part of Christmas Day to sending out rejections? My proposed response to the review: Merry Christmas right back at you! Pox vobiscum, and may you founder in insolvency in the coming year. Last Sunday, when my friend John and I lunched at our favorite local Chinese restaurant, he got this one: Do onto others as you would have others do onto you.
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He quotes a figure, stated publicly by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, of a quarter of a billion dollars in extra business revenues during the first 12 months — July to July — of the marriage equality era in New York. Clearly, equity demands that the parties be spared such an excruciating fate.
Cooper also explained the policy concerns that led New York to establish its divorce residency requirements in the first place. When the state was early in liberalizing divorce law, there was fear that out-of-staters seeking to escape more demanding requirements in their home states such as proving adultery would flock to New York to divorce, inundating the courts. Since then, divorce laws throughout the country have been dramatically altered to allow no-fault divorce everywhere — including, ironically among the last to join that trend, recently in New York — so that the incentives to come to this state specifically to divorce, at least from elsewhere in the US, have disappeared.
Nobody is going to appeal this ruling, so there will not be an appellate ruling that could create a binding precedent on trial courts, but Cooper obviously took pains to write an opinion that would be a very persuasive precedent for future reference.
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