“Don’t bite the hand that feeds you,” particularly if
you are getting divorced.
While that seems like common sense, some parties resort to scorched earth
tactics in divorce. They want all the marital property and what they cannot
get, they destroy.
That tactic backfired in a recent Manhattan divorce.
In Schacter v. Schacter, a case widely reported, a wife’s public
and online complaints about her husband, a prominent New York attorney,
resulted in her receiving a 17% interest in his law practice in their
divorce, instead of the 50% she was seeking.
The Court found that although the economy contributed to the loss in value
of the husband’s practice, the wife’s negative online posts
about her husband went beyond any reasonable public discussion at a time
when work in his field was in decline. The negative publicity, even if
not directly related to the husband's legal talent, could potentially
scare away clients. In one instance, the wife claimed her husband, a partner
in a large white shoe law firm, refused to pay for his daughter’s
$12,000 hearing aids but bought a $215,000 engagement ring for his Playboy
Though he actually paid for the hearing aids, the attorney/husband was
publically ridiculed and was sarcastically named “Lawyer of the
Month” by Above the Law, an internet gossip blog. The husband claimed
the negative publicity hurt him professionally, reducing the value of
his partnership from $5 million in 2007 to $627,000 five years later at
the time of trial.
The court simply could not condone the wife’s conduct.
Although the court recognized that the wife felt that she was badly treated
by the husband, her repeated attacks against him clearly played a part
in diminishing his income. Thus, rather than receiving a significant portion
of a valuable asset, the wife was awarded a smaller portion of a greatly
The lesson to be drawn is simple. Do not let your anger get the best of
you in a divorce. Loose lips sink ships; and now Mrs. Schacter is floating
home in a canoe, instead of the luxury liner she envisioned.