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Thursday, May 24, 2007

A CRUEL AND UNUSUAL COURT DECISION

As a recent newlywed (How long do you get to be a newlywed anyway? I am now just ‘happily married’?), I don’t foresee divorce in my future. But I also have a firm grasp of the fact that many couples do get divorced for a multitude of reasons. So, while I believe that many people give up on marriage far too easily, I also believe that a good divorce is better than a bad marriage so, imagine my surprise when I read the following in NY Lawyer:

A Manhattan appeals panel has reversed a trial court's grant of divorce, holding that the wife's allegations did not satisfy New York's "cruel and inhuman treatment" standard, notwithstanding her claim that her husband "physically force[d] himself on [her] sexually."

"In its vagueness and generality, this testimony could include conduct ranging from the criminal (e.g., forcible rape) to the merely obnoxious," the unanimous Appellate Division, First Department, panel held in its unsigned opinion, Gross v. Gross, 256.

Now, apparently Mr. Gross appealed the lower court decision granting the divorce and the appellate court found Mrs. Gross’ testimony as to the sexual abuse to be too vague, but, even assuming for the sake of argument that Mrs. Gross was exaggerating and the abuse was more along the lines of Mr. Gross begging and attempting foreplay to an unresponsive partner, why on earth would you want to stay married to someone who, in open court, essentially calls you a rapist?

But, I don’t think Mrs. Gross was exaggerating. After all, according again to NY Lawyer:

The panel found that Ms. Gross' evidence failed to establish that her husband's conduct "so endangers [her] physical or mental well being [as to] render it unsafe or improper" for the couple to live together, as required by Domestic Relations Law §170[1]. The panel discounted the sufficiency of Ms. Gross' claim that her husband "force[d] himself" on her sexually, "ramm[ing her] up against the wall" in their bathroom. After noting the "vagueness" of the accusation, the panel added, "Moreover, plaintiff offered no evidence that she had sustained any injuries as a result of this incident," citing Palin v Palin, 213 AD2d 707, in which the plaintiff in a "marriage of long duration [was] required to satisfy a high degree of proof of cruel and inhuman treatment."

I don’t think ramming someone against a wall is a vague accusation. I think it’s a pretty clear indication of domestic violence. And, proving injury is hard. Many victims of domestic violence refuse treatment for injuries out of shame or fear. And many abusers are smart enough to cover their tracks.

So what now? Apparently Mr. and Mrs. Gross still live together in their Upper West Side apartment and I would guess that he is still ramming her against walls and raping her. Hmm, if that is not cruel and inhuman treatment, I am scared to see what is.

3 comments:

super des said...

That is so ridiculous. What do they want? Her to end up dead?

People suck.

(ps - I think you get to be a newlywed for a year. That's my opinion anyway.)

gledwood said...

Well they're a well-named couple. Did you know until very recently (within the last 20 years) a man could not rape his wife under English law?? Imagine the atrocities THAT loophole "perpetrated" (if that's the right word for it ...) ... Love your blog - found you btw, with a hop on the Random Blog button. I'm a blogger too. My main one's called gledwood2.blogspot - that's my online journal where people come to read my daily "confessions"/whatever. I also started up 2 video blogs last week. You're welcome to come by if you like! Take it EZ and all ...
Gledwood "vol 2" ...
btw, "upper west side" - does that mean you're dead posh?
U'll have to excuse me, I'm a Limey ...

Suzanne said...

That is insane. I hope that woman goes to a domestic violence shelter.